Educators, Coaches and Mentors

What is Native Love?

Native Love is defined by our traditional ways of caring for each other. Our NativeLove project encourages youth to rethink what Native Love means to them, and empower them to define healthy relationships for themselves this is with the aim of promoting non-violent, respectful, safe relationships among Native youth, their families, communities, cultures, & Nations.

Those of us in Native communities often hear jokes about “Indian lovin” as waking up with a hickey and a black eye—that’s not love, it’s dating violence. This project gives us the opportunity to think about what NativeLove really is, so we can create change in our thinking and restore our traditional ways of loving, which are characterized by respect, honor, kindness, and compassion.

Through a grant from Verizon, our NativeLove project includes a youth video/photo challenge, posters, social media campaigns, FAQs, and teen resources and toolkits. These are offered to support and inform youth and educators about healthy relationships and to encourage dialogue in Native communities.

"We know that children are very resilient but they are not unbreakable. No matter what the age, children are deeply hurt when they are physically, sexually or emotionally abuse or when they see or hear violence in their homes and communities. When children see or hear too much that is frightening, their world feels unsafe and insecure. Each child and situation is different, but exposure to violence can overwhelm children at any age and lead to problems in their daily lives. Some children may have an emotional or physical reaction. Others may find it harder to recover from a frightening experience. Exposure to violence- especially when it is ongoing and intense can harm a child’s natural, healthy development unless they receive support to help to cope and heal."

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Trauma-informed care for children exposed to violence tips for teachers. Retrieved on January 21, 2015 from

Mandatory reporting is a legal obligation to report reasonable suspicions of abuse. Different jurisdictions have different guidelines on what types of situations must be reported, to whom, and by whom. Many of these requirements extend to school personnel. It is important that you are familiar with local requirements. Please check with your Tribal Community Guidelines or with this State by State list of state mandated reporting requirements.

  • Almost 1 in 10 teens reports being physically abused by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the last year.
  • Only 33% of teens who were in a violent relationship ever told anyone about the abuse.
  • Eighty one percent of parents believe teen-dating violence is not an issue or admit they don’t know if it’s an issue.

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month is a national effort to raise awareness and protect teens from violence. You can make a difference: Encourage your school, community-based organizations, parents, and teens to come together to prevent teen dating violence– both at home and in our communities.

  • Encourage parents to talk with their teens about healthy relationships.
  • Ask teachers to hold classroom discussions about dating violence and prevention

Or to invite speakers in to talk about these issues.

  • Help schools create policies that support healthy relationships and involve student voices.
  • Add information about teen dating violence to your school newsletters.

The NativeLove Youth Project is launching in February 2015 for National Teen Dating Violence Awareness month. But we know it takes more than discussing this important issue just one month out of the year. To promote the discussion, activities and the importance everyday- Verizon and NIWRC have partnered to have this Teen Dating Awareness span 8‑months in the form of an online NativeLove Challenge and tools for educators to use in the classroom. We hope you will help us create space for Native youth to develop a dialogue in their own voice about healthy relationships and What NativeLove means to them.

Keep safe opportunities available for Native youth to dialogue about the change they want to see in their community. Be mindful that some of our Native youth may have experienced or are experiencing violence in their lives. If a youth discloses violence to you, make sure you follow applicable mandatory reporting requirements, while maintaining confidentiality to others.

To encourage dialogue about what NativeLove means, here are some helpful topics for class discussion:

Discussion #1:

Some people say that domestic violence and teen-dating violence is about one person physically injuring another person. But, domestic violence and teen dating violence is about one person trying to manipulate or emotionally injure or tear the other person down so they can have control over them in the relationship. What other types of power and control exist?   To reference the Teen Power and Control Wheel please visit:

Discussion #2:

There are times when no matter what is done, a violence incident will occur in a dating relationship. What ideas can you come up with as a group to provide safety-planning precautions to minimize risk? (These safety plans can help guide individuals in the classroom and provide how to respond or help a friend). Please reference page 26

To offer support to youth advocates and youth educators, NIWRC will showcase various toolkits and resources on a broad spectrum of wellness with the NativeLove Resources.