To have a sense of Family Values is to love and to care for our children, parents, other family members, friends and other community members and to treat them the same way we wish to be treated.

A Harris survey –a public opinion research firm– defined family values as “loving, taking care of, and supporting each other” by 52% of women and 42% of men; as “knowing right from wrong and having good values” by 38% of women and 35% of men; and as the traditional family by 2% of women and 1% men. The survey also noted that 93% of women thought that society should value all types of families. Family Values also include “molded families”–people considered like family by others.


Reclaiming Sacred Beings with Terry Cross One man’s fascinating quest to decolonize indigenous peoples of North America and restore their cultures.

No Reservations: Beyond Stereotypes New Indian organizations combat stereotypes and foster leadership in innovative ways—from building a skate park to aid in suicide prevention to partnering with college sports teams named for tribes. 

The Missing Piece with Curtis Acosta An Arizona teacher discovers the missing piece of the achievement gap puzzle in our schools. Turns out, it has been right there in the classroom all along, staring teachers in the face.

Gay Rights Takes Off in Florida with Nadine Smith An amazing woman puts Florida at the forefront of the Gay Rights Movement. 

Divided We Sink We must unite to save the planet–because there’s no such thing as a hole in just the other side of the boat. 

A Healing Wind of Change with Shadana Dickerson Sultan From jingle dancing to treaty enforcement and tribal economic development, one Ogalala woman brings it all together to build a mighty vortex of Indian power, commerce and community. 

Finding the Sacred Within the Profane with Nora Naranjo-Morse A pueblo dump near a holy tribal clay pit inspires a Santa Clara Pueblo Indian artist to honor discarded items in a way that echoes tribal traditions and questions contemporary consumption. 

Real American Food You Have Never Tasted–Tocabe  Think you know American food? Think again. This American Indian eatery serves food so unfamiliar you have to see it before you order it. 


Family members (include children/youth if you think that you, they and others will enjoy it); Neighbors, Colleagues and Folks from cultural backgrounds different from your own; Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays (PFLAG) members; neighbors, friends, single parent families, grandparents raising children, gay, lesbian and transgender parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and people you’d like to have as family members.


Family rooms, kitchens, living rooms; community centers, faith community meeting spaces.


Drawings, sculptures or paper mache family scenes with folks from different ethnic groups like

  • two men with young girl holding balloon
  • grandparents reading to two children
  • single mom holding child
  • dad and mom playing ball with children

OR photos brought by guests arranged on tray in middle of the table.


  • “We are Family” by Sister Sledge
  • “Where We All Belong” by Raffi’s Circle
  • “Heartbeat of the Earth” by Shana Banana’s
  • “Downstream” by Earth Mama (Joyce Johnson Rouse)


A Pot Luck with folks bringing an ethnic dish that they enjoyed growing up. OR Comfort food, like meatloaf and macaroni/cheese, that is organic and humanely raised. OR dish enjoyed by one of the video speakers like Three Sisters’ Soup (Terry Cross), Boneless Roasted Leg of Lamb (Darius Smith), Chicken Mole with Divine Chocolate (Curtis Acosta), Rice Pudding (Nadine Smith), Chicken Schwarma (Shadana Dickerson Sultan),Chicken Verde (Nora Naranjo-Morse), and Blackberry BBQ Ribs (Tocabe). 

Conversation Opener

Share stories of an interesting, happy, different, or even stressful (that is humorous in retrospect) family experience or experience with someone from a different cultural background than your own.

Engage the children with activities like arts and crafts, videos, or scavenger hunt; and include them if they have the interest or age to contribute to the conversations. Otherwise, you may wish to arrange for caretaker for the children or someone to engage them in activities that promote getting along with others.

Questions to be Asked after a Glass of Wine

  • Discuss the findings of the Harris poll quoted above.
    • How do you define family values?
    • What are your thoughts about who makes up a family?
    • If your definition does not include all the family types mentioned in suggestions under ”Guests” for this gathering, why would it be important to broaden your view?
    • How could you do that?
  • The highly mobile U.S. culture has made living close to extended families difficult. If that is true for you, how have you coped or made possible a feeling of extended family?

Food For Thought related To Reclaiming Sacred Beings Video:

  • Terry describes several factors that made the colonization of Indigenous People possible. Are there other instances in history (or current events) in which the same tactics have been used to neutralize a group of people.
  • Terry describes the traditional parenting practices that NICWA recovered from elders and is now teaching in positive parenting classes.  How do those compare to ones you or the parents you know use?
  • Learn more about the National Association of Indian Children’s Welfare at NICWA.

Food for Thought Related to No Reservations Video:

  •  The silence that has shrouded suicide in Indian country is being pierced by growing alarm at the sheer numbers of young Native Americans taking their own lives — more than three times the national average, and up to 10 times the average on some reservations.  Please share your reaction and thoughts concerning The Stronghold Society’s positive approach to youth to prevent suicide.
  • Expand your conversation to the stereotyping of other minority groups. If desired, please share any personal experience with stereotyping you have had.
  • Personally, when someone is being negatively stereotyped in your company, how do you react?  Most of us would like to think we would speak up but in reality, how often do you think that is true? If  you have spoken up, what reaction did you get and do you think you changed anyone’s mind? Is there a more effective way to change hearts and minds?
  • How powerful to you think the stereotyping of American Indians by sports team is on influencing people’s perception of American Indians?

Additional Information

80% of Native Americans do not live on reservations but in cities.Currently, almost a third of American Indians in the United States live on reservations, totaling approximately 700,000 individuals. About half of all American Indians living on reservations are concentrated on the ten largest reservations. Gaming on Indian reservations has not appreciably lowered the high levels of poverty on Indian lands nationwide. According to a “Survey of Grant Giving by American Indian Foundations and Organizations” by Native Americans in Philanthropy, the needs of reservation Indians are so great that even if the total annual Indian gaming revenue in the country could be divided equally among all the Indians in the country, the amount distributed per person would still not be enough to raise Indian per capita income (currently $11,259) to anywhere near the national average of $21,587. Of the more than 560 Indian nations, only 224 are involved in gaming. Many tribes may never participate in gaming because of their geographic location in rural, unpopulated areas.

Food for Thought related to Missing Piece Video:

  • Curtis Acosta is passionate about teaching and obviously much loved and respected by his students. Who was your favorite teacher in high school?  Please elaborate and note any personal pivotal learning and/or experience you had as a result of that relationship.
  • Imagine closing the achievement gap in high school!  What an accomplishment.  Curtis stated that it was important that Mexican American ethics was woven into core curricula like history and literature that resulted in students even doing better in math and science.  Why do you think this happened?
  • Why do you think that Curtis’ successful ethnic studies’ program in Tucson High School was banned by the Arizona state legislature?
  • Curtis talks about the widespread activism of students, parents, grandparents and fellow teachers as a result of the banning of the class.  Please elaborate on your reaction and share any similar stories that you have.
  • What is the status of ethnic studies in your school district?  Is it offered?  If so, is it part of the core curricula or an elective?  When ethnics studies is part of the core curricula as demonstrated by the program in the Tucson high school, it is more effective.
  • For more information about Acosta Latino Learning Partnership:…/AcostaLatinoLearningPartnership/41584..

Additional Information:

The Center for American Progress released a report in 2014 that they did on teacher diversity in the classroom.  They did a state by state analysis and although they found student diversity in the classroom, it did not exist among the teachers.” Students of color make up almost half of the public school population. But teachers of color are just 18 percent of the teaching profession.. Almost every state has a significant diversity gap

The National Education and Research Association found that 92% of teachers were of European/American descent and most often from middle class backgrounds. Education professors Richard Ingersoll and Henry May have argued, “minority students benefit from being taught by minority teachers, because minority teachers are likely to have ‘insider knowledge’ due to similar life experiences and cultural backgrounds.” What’s more, it is important for all students to interact with people who look and act differently than they do in order to build social trust and create a wider sense of community. In other words, the benefits of diversity are not just for students of color. They are also important for white students.Given these benefits, why are there such large diversity gaps between teachers and students? If teachers of color bring so much to the academic table, why don’t states and districts do more to bring them into the classroom? What could you do to help make this happen?

Food for Thought Related to Gay Rights Video:

  • Nadine shared her chocolate pudding with the girl she fell in love with in elementary school. What is your childhood love story?
  • Nadine comments on the childhood “injury done around race and gender by the people close to you who love you in all sorts of ways but for them this is a blind spot.” Please share your thoughts and/or any similar experience you may have had.
  • In Berlin, when youth were justifiably angry that members of their group had been beaten up for being gay, Nadine tells of her “aha” moment that by hiding or being passive, she was “doing the work of the bigots for them”. Please share your reaction and any experience you may have had related to standing up to bigots.
  • Please share your thoughts about the Gay Rights Movement’s success being in large part due to the fact that members of the LBGT community have come “out” privately and publicly.
  • Telling stories of pain due to discrimination has been more effective for the Gay Rights Movement than quoting statistics according to Nadine.  Please share your thoughts.
  • Does your school district have an anti-bullying policy that specifically mentions gay and transgendered students?  If not, what can you do to help make that happen?
  • Please share you knowledge and stories of what is happening in your community and state to protect and expand the rights of members of the LBGT community. If you think, more can be done, how can you help make that happen? Equality Florida 

Food for Thought Related to Divided We Sink Video:

  • Mel grew up in a “United Nations, multicultural family” which shaped his view of what a society based on acceptance and empowerment of all races and ethnic groups could be.  Please share your experience within your family in regards to that view.
  • Mel participated in a “lock out” at seminary, please share an experience or action that you have taken, large or small, to change people’s minds, hearts and behaviors related to racism.
  • Freedom Summer was a 1964 voter registration project in Mississippi to expand Black voting in the South. The murder of 3 students, two White and one Black, helped to precipitate the passage of the civil rights bill in Congress. Please share memories or knowledge of the Civil Rights era of the 1960s that have influenced you in some way.
  • Malcolm X came from ‘we can’t trust them’ to ‘we must work together’ (to end racism) and Dr. Martin Luther learned that “heart and faith were not enough”, that systems were in place that needed to change to end racism.  Please share your thoughts and reaction.
  • Environmental damage to the planet affects everyone including our food supply and the safety and availability of healthy water.  What efforts do you see being made in your community that bring diverse groups of people together to protect, restore and save our planet?  How can more be done?

Food for Thought Related to Healing Wind Video:

  • The healing wind of jingle dancing had an amazing effect on Shadana’s flesh eating disease.  Please share your thoughts and reactions.  Please expand your conversation to other traditional healing methods from your culture, the ones you perhaps have used and/or know about and their effects.
  • Blending the need for assertive, confident business practices with the traditional humble orientation of American Indian culture is something the RMICC attempts to help members to do.  If you are a member of a minority cultural or ethnic group, are there experiences in your life when you have seen the same conflict arise in the business world?
  • RMICC scope of mission and work includes scholarships for students so they can have lives of quality and bring their talents, skills and knowledge home to their Native American communities. Please share any knowledge or experience you know about related to that goal.

Food for Thought Related to Finding the Sacred Within the Profane Video:

  • Creativity comes in many forms– cooking, exploring, problem solving, flower arranging, gardening, wood carving, strategizing, home décor, fashion, and so many more. What realm is your creativity in?
  • Each member of Nora’s family was involved in “some form of making”.  Was creativity modeled or nurtured in your family?
  • Initially, the school setting was problematic for Nora and she escaped through creating art where she felt safe..  Did you you have a similar experience in school through a creative endeavor or, perhaps, currently in your life?
  • Nora struggled with the split between selling and making. Do you think that this might this be problem in general for artists whose mind/spirit is connected to the artistic creating process more than profit making?
  • Moments occurred that took Nora off on different trajectories such as the awareness that came when she walked the path between the clay pit and the trash pit.  Are you aware of a moment that veered you in a different direction that was a bit of a surprise?
  • Nora believes that artists look at things differently, process differently and then design and/or develop articulations of what they see, hear or feel. Nora’s work reflects her sensitivity to societal disregard of the minority and working poor; wealth inequity; and to materialism and waste. Do you share her sensitivities?  If so, please explain. Do you know any artist’s work similar to Nora’s?
  • Have you ever had an insight or epiphany when experiencing a work of art?

Food for Thought Related to Real American Food Video:

  • What is your knowledge and/or experience of eating Native American foods?
  •  Ben shares his ideas on successful entrepreneurship including sharing your dream, no matter how big, with others you meet as one does not know who will be similarly inspired by your dream to help or even to give funds. Now might be a good time to share your dream with your dinner partners or to share your experience with making your dream a reality.
  • Tacabe contributes time and resources to the national food distribution program and in the process broadens their own knowledge and connection with Native Americans and food recipes.   Receiving and giving are important facets of many cultures including American Indians.  How has that played out in your own experience in life or business?

Additional Actions to Enact Family Values

  • What are some ideas you have for either building on or creating a family support network (i.e. babysitting cooperative) in your neighborhood?
  • What steps could the group take to make that happen?
  • Begin now! Research videos, stories, poems that embrace the broader concept of family. Share at your next Operation Bon Appétit Dinner or gathering.

Closing Toast

“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.” RICHARD BACH, Illusions


“Love makes a family.” GIGI KAESER, Love Makes a Family

About Us

Operation Bon Appetit is an initiative of the Cultural Innovations Agency, Inc. (CIA), a 501c3 nonprofit corporation, with the mission to engage ordinary people in sustainability and social change that emphasizes conviviality, arts, conversations and actions. The ethical framework for the CIA recognizes the interconnection of economic justice, human rights, respect for nature and a culture of peace.

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