We are energized by the enthusiastic reactions to our inaugural newsletter. We hope you’ll be just as enthused by this edition, in which we share the Navajo ceremony known as the Kinaaldá, which celebrates a new menstrator’s beauty, strength and determination. We also highlight our partnership with the Wyoming Indian Schools and the backstory of one of our first monthly donors, a Citizen Potawatomi kwe (woman) from Virginia. Don’t forget to send your ideas for future newsletters, including traditional teachings about periods, to our newsletter editor Paige Willett.
We at The Kwek Society wish you a healthy, safe holiday season and a blessed year ahead. Please wrap yourselves in a virtual hug for your interest in and support for our work to end period poverty among Native American students and communities.
Eva Marie Carney,
Founder & Operator
Diné (Navajo) Kinaaldá Ceremony
During our work with Diné (Navajo) students and community members, women have shared with us certain aspects of the traditional Kinaaldá ceremony, which takes place in the days following a young woman's first period. This Blessing Way ceremony typically lasts four days. In that time, a young woman on her first period is joined by her family and community members in singing, praying, and telling stories to help shape her. She's expected to run multiple times each day and to work for her community - grinding corn and baking a very large corn cake, called an alkaan, by burying it in an earthen pit and setting a fire on top to bake the cake. On the last night of the Blessing Way ceremony, a medicine man or woman is called to help lead prayer and songs and other aspects of the ceremony, and prayers are sung through the night. As the sun rises, the young woman runs one last time toward the sun until the final songs of the Blessing Way ceremony conclude. The final rituals include sharing the corn cake and sweets with everyone assembled. You can hear parts of the traditional Kinaaldá, songs and rituals here.
Wyoming Indian Schools, Wyoming
Our partnership with Wyoming Indian Schools started in June 2019 when we connected with Jenn. She told us that roughly 175 WIS students likely needed supplies. She followed up to say that when she spoke with a WIS counselor about The Kwek Society and our mission to end period poverty the counselor started to cry, saying “there was such a need at the high school and [she] knew that some students were wrapping up toilet paper to make pads.” We’ve kept WIS students stocked with supplies ever since, thanks to the generosity of our donors. Our shipments continued during this pandemic summer, when Jenn made sure our supplies were part of WIS’s grab and go food distribution program. This fall we resumed period product distributions to the schools directly.
Jenn RunsCloseToLodge (Lokota) is a Cultural Mentor/Native Art Teacher at Wyoming Indian Schools, serving Shoshone and Arapaho students. Jenn has over 20 years of teaching experience and is a powerful advocate for Wyoming Indian Schools and its students.
Dell Chalk is a Potawatomi kwe (woman). She was one of the The Kwek Society's first monthly contributors. She believes all Indigenous women are sisters. Dell reports that, as the first woman in her family born away from her homeland and the founder of her own international non-profit, the opportunity to contribute to the Kwek Society's mission "made her heart jump." Dell's great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother were strong women who taught her that God, our Creator, made women special. She notes that, while she many never meet the Native students and community members The Kwek Society supports, each of them is precious and worthy and should know that others stand behind them. Her message to other women is to value yourselves, always help others, and give others hope, strength, understanding and special care, and to know you are loved.
Dell Chalk (right) posing with The Kwek Society founder Eva Marie Carney and CPN Chairman John "Rocky" Barrett
Did you know that for the 2020 tax year only you may deduct gifts of cash to public charities such as The Kwek Society to offset as much as 100% of your income? Ordinarily, the income tax charitable deduction for cash gifts is limited to 60% of your income. Periods haven’t stopped during the pandemic, so we can’t either! We continue to add new school and community partners and to encourage volunteers to sew moon time bags and masks for us. Just in 2020 we have provided students and community members 267,038 period supplies, 3,429 moon time bags and puberty education books and 10,756 masks. We will be crazy grateful for your support as 2020 comes to an end, since we’re certain that there will be an even greater need for period supplies and masks in 2021 as the pandemic grinds on and household budgets are stretched even more severely.