Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

Our Organization

Surreel Saltwaters, Indigenous Advocacy

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What is the name of your solution?

Victual. Indigenize. Foster. Introduce.

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Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

Reversing acculturation by addressing generational trauma to change cycles of addiction by introducing native harvesting and food to foster children.

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What specific problem are you solving?

Over the decades and before Alaska Became a state (January 3,1959) atrocities toward the Native people have happened here. One major problem is the lack of indigenous food in Alaska's foster care system. These three generational traumas are a part of this one ever rising issue, Boarding schools, Man-made disaster, and Natural disaster. I have looked into the timelines and found that all three of these issues have similar dates of destruction to the indigenous diet of Alaskan Natives. 

Indigenous food is being erased from the diets of Alaskan Native Children. This issue contributes to numerous vitamin deficiencies such as Vitamin D. Alaska is Dark most of the winter months, in some Northern Areas it is Dark for months at a time. Declines in traditional marine food intake and vitamin D levels from the 1960s to present in young Alaska Native women | Public Health Nutrition | Cambridge Core

The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA) and The Office of Children's Services (OCS) are the two care takers of children who are found to be neglected and/or abused in their homes. In the Month of February 2022, there were 3,033 Children in State or ICWA care, 2,020 of those are Alaskan Native. Of the house holds who take these children there are only three tribal homes, out of the 1.462 licensed homes. Out of that number there are 125 homes that "fit" the ICWA standard. Just because they fit the standard does not actually make them want to or are they required to feed children foods that are indigenous to their bodies.

This leaving the rest of the homes to teach the 68% of the population in out of home care to living a non-indigenous life. OCS is supposed to be a healthy short term solution to troubled families. Often times, These non-indigenous homes do not have access to or even want access to food items such as Seal meat, or oil. These items can only be hunted by Coastal Dwelling Alaskan Natives with at least 1/4 Alaskan Native blood. This leaves at risk children put out of their own native foods that are sometimes called "soul food." The problem is access to these foods for children who desperately need native food to feel connectedness to their culture, to their spirit and to shelter their minds and hearts as they go through this trying time. ICWA and OCS state that culture connectedness is important, yet, I see social media posts and word of mouth that the foster parents need a resource to know how to attain indigenous foods, and how to prepare it for serving. 

It takes Generations to change your gut biome to acclimate to non native foods like the ones found in grocery stores. So, if you find yourself with a child of any age in OCS custody, who was not introduced to indigenous food prenatally. The child still needs this native food to support bodily functions that non-indigenous people do not have. For example Inupiaq (one of many types of Alaskan Natives, usually above the Arctic Circle) In extreme below zero temperatures, are capable (via the autonomic nervous system) of shunting blood from one artery to another so that temperature can be reduced in the extremities without affecting more important organs. Regulation of their body temperatures is done naturally over thousands of years living above the Arctic Circle. The way their bodies do this is by food items indigenous to where they live, such as Seal meat and Seal oil. 

For nearly a century, boarding schools have been ripping ancestral practices a apart. Intergenerational trauma is so deep in some families, that they self-medicate with mind altering substances, causing child removal of their children to mostly non-native homes. Non-native people carry generational traumas as well, they sometimes tend to still think that their way of life and living is superior to the indigenous of the lands these people live on. I have seen these actions and speaks through the many caucasian people that I know personally. This is false, as you can see there are only three, tribal homes and we know you cannot fit 2,020 children in three households who we know are tribally relevant to this cause. This leaves perhaps, thousands of children at risk of repeating the cycles of unhealthy addictions leading them to unhealthy lifestyles. 

There are numerous health benefits in starting a program for the children in state care, such as teaching traditional hunting through video, food preparation and introduction to their bodies. Connecting to indigenous culture, and cultural activity is not really done in this system. There are a lot of tabs in the OCS website for helping these children, but non helping connect the thousands of children indigenous to the land that they are from. All of these types of Native foods need an organized program and a QR code to purposely give it to the children in their traumatic times. It should be a wider known contribution to native children who live with non-native families to help the kids believe in themselves in the short term and long term. I believe in doing this solution, in time, we can help reverse the cycles of rehabilitation in adults, by raising healthy connected indigenous children.

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What is your solution?

Our team will provide an internet platform to convene with the seasons, We choose our hunting, fishing, and gathering times by the seasons of the year. We tend to get ready for winter months by preparing indigenous foods. We will utilize the internet, modern tools and primitive tools to normalize feeding children in the foster system their indigenous "soul" food. 

1. Provide Awareness to a silent issue, this requires internet, IT, electronics, QR codes, fliers, and a presence in social forums. (This list is in progress)

2. Build a State wide team of people with Western and Indigenous knowledge, to teach the history of the problem at hand and to research it.

3. When we finish our infrastructure of websites and team mates we will need boats, spears, guns, ammo, and fish wheels. 

4. The theory is to reverse the timeline of decimation to reintroduction.

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Strong preference will be given to Native-led solutions that directly benefit and are located within the Indigenous communities. Which community(s) does your solution benefit? In what ways will your solution benefit this community?

The Target in the long run is the 68% of Alaskan Native Children in Foster care, they come from all different cultures in the state of Alaska. (Inupiaq, yupik, Gwich'in, Han, Koyukon, Tlingit, Haida, Sugpiaq, Alutiiq, Aleut, etc.) We begin with the Southcentral region which holds 10 out of home additional to the 858 minus 7 discharged children. Whether these children are indigenous or not, they are in homes that can be aware of what to do with this program if they are or ever decide to be an ICWA home.

The solution will address the native needs by introducing a probable solution that people need to acknowledge. There are a lot of non-native people running fish and wildlife non-profits. Being indigenous led is crucial to the survival and protection of Indigenous hunting and fishing stewardship. Being a leader in many arena's our company know that this solution can help solve the problem of the massive numbers of Alaskan Native Children in OCS care. This contribution in time will stop the cycle of generational trauma that our people have endured, and potentially reverse it as we want to raise healthy resilient, well educated children instead of wards of the state who end up adult wards of the state with addictions. Reintroduction to indigenous lifestyles, in these "safe" homes by way of this program we can accomplish so much in the next few decades, perhaps completely diminishing the number of indigenous kids in non-native homes.

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How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

 Surreel Saltwaters CEO consistantly  is in attention at Tribal meetings, State and Federal forums to hear the concerns of the native people. They are widely underrepresented in a lot of these arena's. Hope serves the people on several of these boards, She ask's questions and purposefully provides answers that help. She is a foster parent, She has taken in numerous indigenous children under the age of five. The biggest concern she has seen, is that they do not have a connection to their own ancestry. She has even brought two of these children to their homelands in New Mexico to visit, to eat their indigenous food, to provide their spirit a strengthening tool for the lives ahead of them. 

We need a larger platform to normalize actions like this solution.

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Where our solution team is headquartered or located:

Valdez, Alaska, USA
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Our solution's stage of development:

Pilot
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How many people does your solution currently serve?

10-858

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Why are you applying to Solve?

We have the infrastructure and funds to start our pilot hunts in 2022 and the kick off of the SSIA program, but it is not enough to spend the number of hours to get the solution in full-time operation. We need help with legal items, technical support, we would be honored to have partners with similar concerns because I would like to solve food security issues on all levels for indigenous people around the world. Culturally, the barrier in the OCS system is that they unintentionally forget that these children come from a strong background that previous to the boarding school era (1930's), and that not only did these people not speak English, they did not have Western educations either. Their education came from survival of the seasons and orally handing down their traditions for centuries.

I realize that we can not go back to primitive ways, in order to adapt to the fact that these children will be living in two worlds, they should at the very least be fueled by the foods of their ancestors while doing twice as much in this lifetime than the non-indigenous people of the world.

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In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Human Capital (e.g. sourcing talent, board development, etc.)
  • Business model (e.g. product-market fit, strategy & development)
  • Financial (e.g. improving accounting practices, pitching to investors)
  • Legal or Regulatory Matters
  • Public Relations (e.g. branding/marketing strategy, social and global media)
  • Monitoring & Evaluation (e.g. collecting/using data, measuring impact)
  • Technology (e.g. software or hardware, web development/design, data analysis, etc.)
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Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Hope Roberts, CEO

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Please indicate the tribal affiliation of your Team Lead.

The Valdez Native Tribe, Circle Alaska, Sitka Tribe

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Is the Team Lead a resident of the United States?

Yes

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Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Drive positive outcomes for Native learners of any or all ages while supporting culturally grounded educational opportunities on and/or off reservations.

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More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

This solution will significantly improve thousands of lives and bring awareness to those who do not particularly find interest in the first people of Alaska. This solution provides modern tools and knowledge to the old ways and systems that Alaskan Natives have used since time immemorial. 

The CEO is board member at the Tribal (Secretary), State(Chair), and Federal Secretarial level she has seen in many instances that Native people are not taken seriously or listened to by many high ranking officials on these levels. One reason for this is: some native cultures for example the Sugpiaq who are often also some amount of Russian descent, became descendants by force. They are ancestrally not combative. We see that in todays meetings where they have recalled their own fishing and/or wildlife proposals as they felt outnumbered in the arena. We as Natives have just been introduced to meeting like the State Board of Fish. The language and rules in these meetings can be so complex that people would rather not participate. There by making it impossible to protect their cultural fishing grounds. If they can not protect their ancestral fishing grounds or use them, they can not teach their families the ways that the fish has always been harvested. With that, some officials take advantage of those not willing to fight back.

Surreel Saltwaters, Indigenous Advocacy is here to be an advocate, activist and official speaker for those who do not wish to be confrontational at any level. Without someone to speak about the importance of Indigenous food in the Foster system, who will?

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What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

In the first year, we at Surreel Saltwaters would like to have the rest of our infrastructure in place: hunting, skinning, fishing supplies, freezers, fuel, and a platform with advocates in place. We would also like to implicate elders and knowledge keepers who have shown interest in teaching their ways of life to be a part of a planning committee. We would like to involve people who are willing to volunteer their knowledge to the Natives who do not attain through traditional oral story telling because of which ever traumatic reasoning that they lost the culture. In Alaska Surreel Saltwaters, CEO is connected to people all over the state, She is a part of First Alaskan's Institute: Protecting Our Ways Of Life (POWOL). This is a provided platform only available to people with Alaskan Native blood and ancestry. POWOL works together to teach people of all education levels up to PhD that we can stand in solidarity to make solutions to challenges work. Surreel Saltwaters has been a part of the working group for two years. This is one of many ways that we can collaborate all of the different cultures in Alaska to feed the children in the system using primitive and current tools to impact and transform the OCS and ICWA system by starting this project in keeping Alaskan Native Children in State care connected for life.


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How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

1.) By April 31,2023 have successfully introduced ten people to Marine Mammal Hunting, there by introducing ten willing native and non native foster families to food indigenous to their children's needs while they are in their custody.

2.) We have a plan to introduce leaders in the Prince William Sound to Marine Mammal hunting with the purpose of reintroducing the culture to them as well as introducing their processed catch to Native children in Foster Care.

3.) Have quarterly reports written by season as this is how we hunt and gather in Alaska, this is important for the children and new Marine Mammal Hunters to learn.


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What is your theory of change?

The idea is to reverse the issue of children of indigenous culture completely out of the foster system that was made by Europeans with the thought that they know and knew what was best for the Children of Alaska. While we work through historical trauma through partnerships, understanding, empathy and also having been a part of it personally and have done healing ourselves we expect to have real understanding of how the healing will change the lives of potentially thousands of people in Alaska through the reintroduction of indigenous foods to people by giving it to them.  A part of Alaska's universal culture is to share with out asking for anything in return. 

Hope and Captain Charles unknowingly uncovered the power of reconnection one day as they were hunting seals in the Prince William Sound, As she harvested her first Seal under Captain Charles guidance a certain spirit about her woke up and she realized that if all people could reconnect to where their ancestors roamed, they would possible all have the same spiritually awakening that she did. She thought about how many lives in Anchorage alone could be turned around by reconnecting to the sea and islands that thousands of them are from. She knew that a lot of them are sent to the Anchorage Native Medical Center for treatment of anything from Illnesses to drug and alcohol treatment, so many of them end up stuck there and never make it home and If they do make it home, they do not have people to teach them their ways.

Marine Mammals are federally protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). We understand that this is a touchy subject with some people. There are so many federally qualified people in Alaska today that could be healed spiritually, mentally, and physically if given the chance to 1.) learn to harvest MM. 2.) Learn about the value of feeding children at risk 3.) potentially all leaders who are already federally qualified to hunt can teach others about their personal journeys and spread Hope and encouragement to the unseen native population. if there are 2,020 Native children in the foster care system, lets remember that we haven't even counted the Asian, Black, Hispanic, and Hawaiian children. Indigenous people all in an unwritten sense know about each others struggles historically and we can share this information with non-natives through a "feeding frenzy." Remember, food is life, without life there is no spirit, with out spirit there is no Hope.


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Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

Our core technology would be our modern motorized boats, rifles, skinning knives and the ancestrally used and made harpoons (another solve to the art of making these can be added in a later time.) We would also use a drone, go pro and cameras to document and share what we are doing with other future clients who would understand why we need to hunt our own foods for the children that we are trying to help, and will help.

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Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new application of an existing technology

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Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Ancestral Technology & Practices
  • Internet of Things
  • Robotics and Drones
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Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
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In which countries do you currently operate?

  • United States
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In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • United States
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In which states do you currently operate?

  • Alaska
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In which states will you be operating within the next year?

  • Alaska
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Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

Hybrid of for-profit and nonprofit

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How many people work on your solution team?

1 full-time, 2 part-time

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How long have you been working on your solution?

2 years

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What is your approach to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into your work?

On the business side of Surreel Saltwaters we have spent the last five years teaching our fishing clients about the ancestral waters and lands in which we pass through to fish at the Gulf of Alaska. We have taken hundreds of deep-sea anglers out to fish we have met and understood how to include people in our culture for years. Now that we are beginning a new chapter at Surreel Saltwaters we are including the non-indigenous people who foster children and allowing them to witness through video, oral, and written testimony how this progam would work. We so far have used Go-Pro and video footage and shared with thousands of people on social media how we hunt and harvest in the Arctic Winters of Alaska to feed our own children and foster children. We use many primitive rituals along with modern training to include anyone who wished to be helpful first to the children in out-of-home care, to the ones who live with their parents as well as donating indigenous food to the Elders. We at Surreel Saltwaters would like to innovate and include all walks of life to make Alaskan Indigenous Ancestry a revitalized practice and we believe the 2,020 Alaskan Native Children in Foster Care is a good start. Even if we have to start with awareness to just ten of them in the Southcentral region the first year.

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Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

The value in the population will be priceless if we can help just one child escape the vicious cycle that they are potentially already in. As we have done with the for profit side of the business, on the non-profit side we would use any extra funds to learn to be more productive and resourceful with our mission. 

We would provide Native people with the opportunity to hunt and fish in the wild to donate their harvests on an amicable level to feed the foster children of Alaska. After all we are people who share and take care of each other by ancestry. We provide knowledge, supplies, and the avenue to share their harvest with foster children.

We would provide all services first through outreach, by email, social media and word of mouth.

They need the services because as a culture, statistics say that Natives are the highest ration in poverty. 

Alaska Population 2022 (Demographics, Maps, Graphs) (worldpopulationreview.com)

Subsistence living is wanted because although statistics say one thing, Alaskan Natives with full fridges and freezers who can and do hunt, fish, trap and share are rich in culture. Before Western statistics were introduced. Native people built their riches on family size, village size and most importantly their ability to harvest, process and share their catches. There are a lot of people of all races and ages that will benefit from our services. They already do, last year Surreel Saltwaters donated one hundred pounds of fish including Halibut, rockfish, and salmon to people who need it, those who live in extreme poverty. Surreel Saltwaters has also donate 250 pounds of seal, including the organs, meat and blubber to elders, children, and people impoverished by their personal dilemmas.



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Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)
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What is your plan for becoming financially sustainable?

In the last year, we have brought in money by fishing for profit, we hunt and fish for ourselves and decided that we were going to start donating services. We will be constantly applying for grants large and small to continue our work, we will start a donation tab on our website when it is updated to include our advocacy. So far, we have been able to sustain our expenses for one or two trips to hunt and fish for children in the foster system. We are currently working on sustainability in the winter months where as Natives we don't typical hunt or fish in the South Central region. When we secure funding to make our project well known, we will begin to take on more resources to plan and really centralize our sustainability and growth as the months pass. 

We believe that this project can and will be fully sustained by a combination of all resources available the more we build our portfolio of hunts, shares and ability to feed Alaska's Native Children. We will form partnerships with OCS and ICWA resources to make sure we help in this victual way of sustaining Alaska's future ancestors, our children.

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Share some examples of how your plan to achieve financial sustainability has been successful so far.

We have successfully fished for profit to take on our project alone, we have made $40,000 a summer month to pay for our boat, truck, and equipment to take people hunting and fishing as indigenous people with the only stipulation to share their catch with others. We have just begun applying for grants, and expect to be awarded a micro-grant for a slaughter house as the Alaska Department of agriculture has put out a request for grants with great reasoning. As these opportunities come up we are hoping to be awarded to purchase more equipment, such as a better equipped boat. Right now we own a 26 foot, 400 horse powered Weldcraft. It's current worth is $265,000 as it sits. We would like to accomodate elders and children a better as we build this project from the ground up. 

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Solution Team

  • Hope Roberts Surreel Saltwaters
 
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