Vincent Flores-Maldonado Keeps Culture at the Core of Communal Healing

Vince Flores Maldonado

Photo by Sonya Salway

Faced with a lack of wellness resources while amid his own struggles with addiction, Vincent Flores-Maldonado decided to make a turn in his life that would result in the helping and healing of hundreds of Native Americans across Southern Arizona. 

Now the founder and executive director of the Native Music Coalition (NMC), Flores-Maldonado’s legacy began in 2014. It was then that he decided it was time to begin his work providing the Native American community in and around Tucson with alternatives to Western medicine regarding family struggles, community issues, and addiction. 

Where traditional Western medicine will face behavioral health ailments with a prescription or therapy, NMC prioritizes spirituality, culture, and togetherness at the center of its organization. Inspired by his journey in reclaiming his culture after struggling with alcoholism and addiction, Flores-Maldonado realized that Western medicine was not the complete answer for what he needed to maintain sobriety: he needed spiritual healing.

After spending a few years living with his uncle, a spiritual healer who taught him the ways of the land and the traditional role of the Indigenous man, Flores-Maldonado knew he needed to serve his community. 

As a protector of his people, Flores-Maldonado created NMC to provide a wide range of services in the seven locations it serves, from Tucson all the way up to its newest chapter in South Dakota. 

In 2016, NMC officially became recognized as a non-profit through Flores-Maldonado’s efforts as well as a community of artists who supported his vision. 

Programs Available at NMC 

At the Wellness Center in Tucson, NMC puts on cultural awareness sessions, youth groups, music workshops, drum-and-gourd rattle making classes, painting classes, and beadwork and talking circles. They strive to promote sobriety while also creating spaces for youth and families to grow in healthy, culture-centered ways. Through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state’s Medicaid program, NMC has an annual budget of $720,000 to give towards its programs. 

The cultural awareness sessions provide a space where Indigenous folks can learn more about their culture while remaining tribe-specific, inclusive, and understanding of modern life.

The Cante’ Waste Youth Program serves youth ages 4-17 through presentations on topics like gender, the Yaqui Nations, and the importance of protecting Mother Earth. They even provide events like capture the flag or airplane making. The organization has “served over 700 native youth in the past two years by spearheading annual Backpack giveaway events in which food, entertainment, free raffles, and school supplies were provided,” according to the NMC website.

The center also provides a horse camp for both youth and adults to learn about how horses intertwine with Native Americans and their history. 

Mato Siyete, the organization’s newest chapter in South Dakota, serves to preserve culture, promote sobriety and restore indigenous identity. 

Trips and Ceremonies 

With culture at the core of the organization, Flores-Maldonado knew he wanted to tie in ceremony and travel as a part of his methodology of healing to give a sense of identity to those who work with NMC. 

Each year, Flores-Maldonado takes members of the organization to sit in and participate in ceremonies from the cholla bud harvesting with the Tohono O’odham Nation to the Sundance ceremony of the Gil River Indian Community. 

In the White Mountains, NMC participants are able to experience a healing and protection ceremony presented by Apache Dancers. 

Professional Education 

When Flores-Maldonado knew he wanted to create an organization like NMC, he decided he needed to make sure he had the credentials to do so. An artist by trade, Flores-Maldonado has a bachelor’s in substance abuse counseling from Grand Canyon University. About 90% of NMC’s core staff are peer support specialists

The organization strives to provide professional accountability when serving its community and also works to hire from the community it serves. This is done as a way to create jobs but also to ensure that when healing takes place, it can take place in a space that is understanding and empathetic to the families who enter their doors. 

With a staff of 35, the organization represents members from the Navajo Nation, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, White Mountain Apache Tribe, and the Tohono O’odham Nation. 


Next to Flores-Maldonado is his partner Anna Tarazon who works as the office manager and program coordinator for NMC. 

Tarazon was so moved by her partner’s vision for the organization that when she saw that he was ready to make the financial investment into NMC, she quit her former job working for the Pascua Nation to dedicate her time to the coalition. 

Like Flores-Maldonado, Tarazon is educated in the work that they provide for the community members. She holds a Bachelor’s in Human Studies from Prescott College and a Master’s in Social Work from Arizona State University. 

Together, the two have five adopted children from the Pascua Yaqui tribe.

1 Source
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  1. Native Music Coalition. Cante' Waste'.

Additional Reading

By Ixa Sotelo
Ixa is an Austin, Texas-based writer and contributor for Verywell Mind, where she explores the intersections of Latinx culture, spirituality, non-monogamy, mental health, and queer identity.