NAICOB

Crowdfunding to Regenerate the North American Indian Center of Boston

ICTMN Staff
7/22/14

The North American Indian Center of Boston (NAICOB) has launched a crowdfunding effort to help regenerate the building they've called home for the last 40 years.

According to the organization's IndieGoGo page:

In the late 1960s, a group of Native Americans living in Boston set up the Boston Indian Council (BIC). They did so recognizing, in the midst of civil rights progress, that life for the indigenous people of North America was still hard and unforgiving - and nowhere was this fact more true than in the cities where, bereft of what little aid was available on reservations, life was especially tough. Despite this additional difficulty, Native Americans migrated (and continue to do so) to cities like Boston in search of employment and social advancement; in the late sixties the native population of Boston numbered roughly five thousand - nowadays it is pushing towards thirty thousand.  The founders of the BIC recognized that when these men and women arrived, many of whom had never left their own communities, they were overwhelmed and underprepared; cut off from people of their own cultures, and under-educated (thanks to the substandard education offered to native peoples), many became lost - mental illness and alcoholism spread even more quickly through urban communities than it did through reservations.

The BIC was originally just a place where native peoples could meet up and engage with one another, but it quickly became a roaring success. It started with just a handful of Indians meeting across the street from the Boston Common, progressed to larger meetings in a Funeral Parlor in Dorchester, but in 1974 - as the need for services became obvious - they acquired the building that NAICOB inhabits to this very day. In those heady days, with the U.S. recognizing the wrongs it had done to so many, there were always new programs: computer training, education services, employment assistance, cultural programs, and so much more - they even ran a halfway house (called Tecumseh House) for alcoholics. It was through organizations like BIC that genuine advances began to occur.

Then the backlash against the civil rights and anti-poverty programs began, and picked up pace particularly during the eighties. The Boston Indian Council, who were by then the center for the Indian Health Service in Boston, suddenly found itself with a continued need for all the programs but a drastically reduced budget. Furthermore, the federal recognition process was initiated; this has been a blessing for so many, allowing tribes to acquire sovereignty and self-sufficiency. However, it did have one drawback: it drew away even more funding from urban centers like the BIC, which led to reduced opportunities to many native peoples - those whose tribes had been unable to achieve recognition, and those urban natives who were very far away from these newly available resources. To save itself from complete destruction, it reformed itself as a non-profit organization in 1991 - the North American Indian Center of Boston (NAICOB).

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