The classes described below are found integrated into YNS/InterTribal Youth Educational
Tours. These programs are also offered as class /workshops and seminars which can be used
independently by Tribal, Educational, and Private organizations. YNS/InterTribal Youth
offers select classes and customized curriculum for communities interested in fostering
and experiencing unique learning environments.
Contact us for further information or to schedule a class for your organization.
Humanities: Writing, Music, And Critical Thought
Dr. Alan Lechusza (Cahuilla/ Maidu)
Professor, Scholar in Residence
Coffee & Eagle Feather Productions
phone: (619) 758-1615
Dr. Alan Lechusza is the Director of Education and Curriculum for YNS/InterTribal Youth
and holds an Associate Professorship at U.C.S.D. He is a nationally renowned Lecturer,
instructor, composer/performer. Dr. Lechusza has authored numerous papers on the issues
concerning contemporary music and their complex relationship to the Native communities.
An accomplished musician, Dr. Lechusza is constantly touring the U.S. with his own and
other ensembles including The Yellow Chair Ensemble, Miscellaneous Debris, The Christopher
Adler Trio, Quartetto Nuevo, Michael Vlatkovich Septet and many others.
Dr. Lechusza conducts our seminar on Music, Culture, Language, and Writing (MCLW). In
addition to exploring the links between traditional and contemporary music and indigenous
cultures, students work together to break down the boundaries of western education and
open new horizons of self-expression and thought.
Indigenous Earth and Environmental
Science Program, “Sharing the Land”
Dr. Eric Riggs
Professor, Purdue University
Dr. Eric Riggs is Co-Director of the Center for Research and Engagement in Science
and Mathematics Education (CRESME) at Purdue University and Associate Professor in
the Departments of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences and Curriculum & Instruction. He is
also the President of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers for 2007/08.
Dr. Riggs studies many related aspects of field-based teaching and learning in the
geosciences and cross-cultural education.
Dr. Riggs is the director of the Sharing the Land Project, a project funded by the
National Science Foundation which aims to make the geosciences accessible and useful
to Native Americans across North America.
"Sharing the Land" program works with tribes in Southern California. The program's
goal is two-fold:
(1) Increase on-reservation expertise in the earth and environmental sciences; and
(2) develop a better understanding of how to integrate culturally-held, indigenous,
scientific earth science knowledge into the teaching of the earth sciences for
American Indian communities nationwide.
Jerome Gross has been in private practice as a Hypnotherapist since 1995 and has
been teaching yoga for seven years. As Founder / Director of the Effulgence Academy,
Jerome teaches this specialized mind-body-wellness routine at fitness centers and
holistic health centers as well as to individual clients since 2002. Mr. Gross also
taught physical education for two years and currently develops programs for San Diego
City School's Race and Human Relations and Health Integration Program.
This physically and spiritually enlightening yoga class promotes a mindset of health and
self- empowerment. Participants learn how to effectively use the power of their mind through
visualization, meditation, breathing techniques and creating personal mantras/affirmations.
Students are presented with the tools and strategies to develop positive qualities and highest
potential physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The session will end with a hike
back up to campus. Jerome has studied and experienced native traditions, making it relative
cultural needs and personal success.
The specific tools and strategies taught in the mini lessons will culminate into a routine
that Jerome developed for the San Diego Public Schools and in private practice as a spiritual
counselor and therapist, called the Process of EFFULGENCE™.
Wellness Clinic, Behavioral Health, Culture
Jodene Platero (Navajo)
PhD. Candidate Alliant International
University's Marriage and Family Doctoral Program
Jodene teaches courses in our Wellness / Behavioral Health Clinic. She has been
working with County Indian Reservations for the past ten years. Ms. Platero provides family
and individual counseling for Elementary, Middle, and High School students in the East
County schools through CrossRoads Family Center Organization.
In addition, Jodene is in the process of developing new models of treatment that are complementary
to the American Indian communities.
Drugs, Alcohol, and Sex: Prevention of Negative Patterns in Indian Communities.
The class focuses on creating a Genogram with the aim of identifying and preventing negative
patterns from manifesting in student future lives. Students collect detailed information on
family origins and relatives going back three generations. If possible the information should
include age of family members, divorces, marriages, any alcoholic or substance abuse, domestic
violence, teen pregnancies, unemployment, diseases, causes of death, and other characteristics
of family members which they feel are important to know. They will then be guided in illustrating
the patterns in their family system and historical trauma which may have impacted each members
life, especially their own. Finally students will come to conclusions on how to prevent the negative
patterns from manifesting in their future lives.
Integrated Wellness Program
Gelsamina “Shiva” Merritt
Mrs. Merritt is a Health Integrationist. She spent ten years as a Traditional Birth Attendant
(aka Midwife) and worked as Certified Massage Therapist (CMT) for 20 years before engaging
in clinical practice as a Cranio Sacral Therapist (CST). With a strong foundation in nutrition,
home health, pre and post surgical support, and integrated and alternative medicine including
Herbology, Homeopathy, Gem-scriptions, and Flower Essence Therapy, Mrs. Merritt is able to
support the body's inherent ability to heal itself.
Merritt utilizes integrated health methods to detect, evaluate, and correct physical and
emotional imbalance, injury and/or trauma (including trauma caused during birth). By
manipulating the Cranio Sacral System, (made up of the membranes and cerebral spinal
fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord), participants learn to enhance
body performance and function, encourage the body to dissipate the negative effects of
stress on the nervous system and alleviate pain and discomfort. Mrs. Merritt also integrates
daily practices of yoga, meditation, spiritual development and nature healing into her program.
Geneva Lofton-Fitzsimmons (IHC CA-NARCH Advisor)
Assistant Director American Indian Outreach UCSD-EAOP
Geneva Lofton-Fitzsimmons is a member of the La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indians and a
graduate of San Diego State University. Based in the community, she broadens
university-community relationships with Indian Education Centers, Tribal organizations
and the 18 reservations throughout San Diego and Imperial Counties. Geneva also works
for the Indian Health Council, Inc. and the California Native American Research Center
for Health NARCH Grant, which allows her to document existing services and programs for
minority students at SDSU, UCSD, and through AAIP (Associated American Indian Physicians).