Sassafras acknowledges Aquinnah Wôpanâak Territory and its People.
Growing leaders for a healthy future
Sassafras is an indigenous Wöpanâak (Wampanoag) nonprofit on Nôepe (Martha's Vineyard) founded by David Two Arrows and Saskia Vanderhoop in 2003. Our mission is to raise connected leaders, to build equitable and regenerative community and to bring social and environmental awareness, for a healthier future that integrates indigenous values of living in balance with earth and each other. Our outdoor programs offer experiences that transform and build confidence, perseverance, and indigenous and environmental awareness.
Sassafras offers programs, events and serviced that;
reconnect youth and adults to the earth through ancient mentoring practices, while referencing Native and BIPOC youth and young adults;
educate schools, organizations and the general public on a truthful representation and increased awareness of the indigenous peoples of Turtle Island;
offer training and consultation on indigenous cultural competency for organizations and groups, and;
develop LandCulture - an indigenous permaculture project that restores the land and it's people.
Programs for all
Our outdoor curriculum of nature, earth, and ancestral skills helps youth develop tangible outdoor skills, through authentic life lessons. Youth learn about indigenous and natural history, local island environments, the importance of living in balance with the earth and with each other in respect. We are big on social justice and provide youth with a place to hear the truth and to express themselves in safe ways that encourage building a truly equitable community. Sassafras is an unplugged environment by choice, we believe that providing a screen-free space is important for the development of wholesome young people.
Our Nature Connection Mentoring approach is derived from traditional indigenous practices, it offers children bite-size edges to slowly expand their comfort zone, increase their awareness and hone all their senses.
Youth works together in small groups according to age, and we also create community across ages. Having fun and following individual passions are high on our list, it helps youth to be comfortable in the woods and with themselves.
Days are filled with nature-centered games and activities that kids love to do: exploring woods and streams, building our own campsites, making fires, building forts and fairy houses, moving through the forest like wild animals, listening for bird language, whittle and craft, ID plants and our favorite edibles, and our all-time favorite “JTC”. On hot days we often spend a day at the water’s edge. We start and end every day in circles that include land acknowledgments, gratitude, conversation, stories, and music.