Sacred Healing Circle work to promote and continue Native American practices, from working with the endangered Native American horse in partnership with Sacred Way Sanctuary, or working with young people from across the Nations to learn a range of culinary skills and teach them about their different cultures.


Native communities across the Americas are under pressure. With the loss of their traditions, culture, languages, religion, tribal rights and their access to tribal lands and ceremonial sites rescinded, they find themselves deteriorating at an alarmingly disproportional rate. Sacred Healing Circle was initially set up to fight the poverty that strikes many of the Native American communities, working with them to develop business skills and savvy.  Then they looked at some of the impact that alcohol and domestic violence was having in the community.

The real turning point for the NGO was when they realised that instead of simply fighting these symptoms in these communities, they could address the root cause. By utilising traditional Native American methodologies to address Native American issues, bringing back aspects of their lives which made them complete and healthy, the programs became much more successful, having a successful longer term impact on the participants.

Sacred Healing Circle run a number of programs, including the Native American Horse Preservation Program and the Native Youth Culinary Camp.

© Sacred Healing Circle
© Sacred Healing Circle
© Sacred Healing Circle
© Sacred Healing Circle

Why this matters

Native Americans suffer great inequality in the USA. They’re more likely to be in prison and more likely to be shot dead by police. The Black Lives Matter movement has managed to raise the profile of disproportionate police brutality but has masked the issues faced by native people.

The federal government continues to take land away from the tribes, with sites being sold to mining conglomerates and for public projects, annexed without involving the people that it may belong to or who consider it a sacred land. For example, famous state icon Mount Rushmore is carved into the sacred Black Hills of Dakota. The Great Sioux Nation has refused to take a $1.3 billion settlement as payment. Fracking and pipelines are taking oil out of Indigenous lands, violating the treaties that were negotiated, polluting the environment and taking money from some of the poorest communities in the US.

Education is a key issue in native communities with only 51% of native youths graduating from school. Schools on Indian reservations are chronically underfunded and the buildings can be deteriorated and structurally unsound.

There are also disparities in the healthcare and treatment of native people, with the population suffering from high rates of obesity, diabetes, substance abuse, HIV and mental health disorders when compared with the general population.

The Native communities are facing a battle on many fronts, and when also trying to cope with a degradation of identity, it has led to many problems in their communities.

Onaway have invested in their partnership with Sacred Healing Circle to counter the negativity and hardships faced by Native Americans, helping them to use traditional practices to boost the confidence, health and wellbeing of people from the Indigenous nations of America.

The outcome

The money from Onaway was used in a number of programs by Sacred Healing Circle.

The Afraid of Bear/American Horse Sun Dance Culinary Academy brought together students and young adults from the Lakota and Mohawk Nations, and a number of young people of Cherokee, Choctaw and/or Creek descent. This pilot program was set up not just to teach them hospitality and culinary skills, but also to create friendships that will last a lifetime. In the face of high youth suicides and substance abuse problems in the Native community, finding ways to teach the participants to respect their culture and to find effective ways to support each other is crucial.

Four to five hundred plates were prepared each of the five days for the Sun Dance supporters including the drummers, singers, their families as well as the security, medical and catering teams. With no running water or electricity, ensuring that everything was done safely and hygienically was difficult, but nutritious and high quality meals were prepared and served at each sitting.

The Afraid of Bear / American Horse Sun Dance Culinary Academy is a great program, which can only be improved upon each year

Hannah Cox, Head Program Leader

Sacred way sanctuary

The Sacred Way Sanctuary is located on what was once the 1806 Congressional Reservation, which was the first Federal Indian Reservation. Sacred Healing Circle purchased the land which was a dumping ground, restoring it and building a home for the many animals that live there.

One species of these animals in particular is the Native American horse, the indigenous horse of the Americas.  This horse was theorised to be extinct in the Ice Age era but pockets of them continued to live in the Americas. Yvette Collin and her husband have created a sanctuary for these magnificent animals and have been working to introduce them and their offspring to herds around the country.  This has also led to an uncovering of the oral history regarding the horse and its connection with the Native Americans.


Native Americans are indigenous to the USA. They are regionally varied, with many nations making up the people, including Sioux, Cherokee, Choctaw and many more. Traditionally called Indians due to Christopher Columbus’s mistaken identity of the land that he arrived in, there are 2.5 million in the USA today, which make up the 567 recognised tribes.


Approximately one million Native Americans live on reservations. These tracts of lands range from a cemetery in California belonging to the Pit River Tribe to the Navajo Nation Reservation located in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah which is 16 million acres.