Paul Lumley, chief executive officer of the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA), is a leader with multiple, far-reaching visions. That became obvious to Pearl Rotarians when he spoke to the club, via Zoom, on May 3.
Serving 50,000 Native Americans in the Portland metro area, Paul supervises efforts that emanate from the center in North Portland. He began by citing his Yakama Nation citizenry and his people's "relationship to (our) creator." One chart included what he called "first foods" and their linkage--salmon, game, roots, berries and water. He cited treaties between the U.S, government and the tribes and often the lack of rights being preserved, particularly when it comes to salmon fishing along the Columbia. Dams built for flood control flooded tribal villages, destroyed communities that had existed for generations and displaced people.
"It was a major tragedy," Paul said of the dams like Bonneville "Many people moved to Portland as part of forced evacuation."
Almost 50 years ago, NAYA was founded, first with after-school programming which helped Indian youths resist gangs, drugs, etc. A home building for NAYA on N. Mississippi Ave. opened in 1994.
The Native American Family Center, on N.E. Columbia, was established in 2006 and today is the campus for many NAYA activities. Paul termed the facility "youth-centered, family-driven, elder-guided." NAYA has formed community partnerships that include Portland Public Schools and Portland Pearl Rotary.
NAYA's multi-faceted outreach is impressive: education, early childhood learning, foster care, curbing domestic violence, addiction recovery, mental health treatment, support for entrepreneurship. Additional NAYA sites in NE Portland (including the Cully Neighborhood) provide affordable housing and a growing emphasis on indigenous art.
A three-year funding campaign is 60% completed--an effort, Paul said, which "makes sure NAYA will always be a home to our Native community."