Consultation, collaboration and training services specializing in nature connection mentoring and outdoor education, to improve relations with and within First Nations communities, resulting in equitable, responsible change and decolonization initiatives.

We have the responsibility to heal the effects of colonialism, both past and ongoing, and the environmental destruction that we are a part of, willing or unwilling. During a time of extensive social and environmental challenges, the inclusion of Indigenous peoples is vital to heal our collective human spirit and to give respect to ancient wisdom that can help us to survive. We need to begin by acknowledging and making amends with Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) and other often marginalized groups. Together we can create a paradigm for new leadership that is inclusive and culturally competent and relevant. Sassafras can help your organization on that journey with our experience from the past 20 years.

Sassafras is a 51% Indigenous-led organization, that operates on Wampanoag land held in an unbroken lineage. Founder and Director of Land, David Vanderhoop is an Aquinnah Wampanoag elder, who was raised in a traditional Wampanoag family in Aquinnah. David has experienced the effects of historic trauma, racism, and cultural appropriation in his lifetime of 65 years. He brings a unique peacemaking way to address the ongoing effects colonialism truthfully and with empathy for all. 


Depending on your organization's needs, outcomes can include the following; creating acknowledgment of land and first peoples, understanding truth in history and contemporary issues, addressing cultural appropriation, and building relationships with or within Indigenous communities. We can assist you in developing policies for repair, training staff, board members, volunteers, and participants. We mentor Indigenous youth and adults in decolonization initiatives. 

Sassafras has been a forerunner in creating equity and right relations with First Peoples within a network of nature connection mentoring organizations (NCN). We can assist your organization to make progress in the above areas and can design according to your organization's specific needs. 


After a first free consultation, we proceed by engaging with you and your organization's team members through a series of (zoom) calls followed by in-person workshops and conversations, fitted to your needs. In-person training components can take place at your location or here on the Island of Noepe for a retreat gathering. 


David Vanderhoop is an Aquinnah Wampanoag Native, founder, and Director of Land of Sassafras Earth Education. David is the coordinator for the Indigenous Council for The Nature Connection Network, and a board member of the Native Land Conservancy, the first of its kind on the east coast. In his lifetime, David has served on Tribal Council, as a Selectman for the Town of Aquinnah, and specializes in Aquaculture. David has presented and given consultations on historic trauma, decolonization, cultural appropriation and racism from an Indigenous perspective. David is a father of 5 (grown) children and 6 grandchildren, he loves to fish, hunt and cook over an open fire.


Saskia Vanderhoop is a Netherlands/Frysian immigrant since 1998, founder and Executive Director of Sassafras Earth Education and married to David. Saskia is the coordinator and board member of the Nature Connection Network. She grew up nature connected in a small village in a privileged white setting, has a masters degree in non western sociology and has undergone transformational growth by living in a Native family and community. Saskia developed herself as a bridge between communities and brings 20+ years of experience.