Our 2020 Symposium, which took place August 8th, was a wonderful chance to meet virtually! Below is the recording from our day, plus some of the notes and links relevant to the conversation.
Breakout Session Notes & Important info from the 'chat'
Thank you to the wonderful volunteers who took notes from our unrecorded breakout sessions.
Session A: Centering the Indigenous Voice
The group brainstormed resources that could complement the Since Time Immemorial (STI) curriculum:
Camp in the Box Curriculum
UW Burke Museum Boxes
Local foods: Cedar Box curriculum (indigenous foods and recipes); GruB (nonprofit connecting schools and farming)
Evergreen State College resources: longhouse, carving studio, weaving masters in indigenous fiber arts
Visit Tribal museums
Other ideas for ways to center indigenous voices:
Look at subject teaching from native voices; bring in stories and lessons of indigenous people into subject lessons.
Example: math. Math is used when making canoe paddles; they must be measured to fit the individual who uses them (a paddle that fits should reach from nose to toes). You could ask students to explore how they could make sure the paddle is the correct size.
Learn the indigenous names of the places and people of the land where you live.
See if your library partners with local tribes to do events.
Go to tribal libraries.
Look for native authors.
Hire, and invite indigenous people to be part of your advisory board.
One participant asked how to teach children about the symbol of the eagle. In the context of a national symbol, an eagle can be seen as a colonizer/ stealing land. Some ideas from the discussion:
Acknowledge that stealing is not fair, but we can still do something about it.
Recognize emotions the child is feeling
Discuss the strengths eagles have
Share other views of eagles as leaders; share other ways that eagles are used as symbols
Don’t shy away from conversations about the dark side of our history. Name what happened.
The discussion started by establishing that it was a brave/ learning space. Group agreement: if damage is done, we highlight it and work together to repair. Topic: diversity in hiring process.
One director tried to promote diversity in her school’s hiring process, but received pushback from her board. She described some of her specific frustrations: other POCs not speaking up; pushback on anti-racism work; resistance and fear about toxicity. Eventually everyone ended up on board, but the experience left negativity, distrust, and trauma body responses. Some white allies, while passionate about social justice, still feel discomfort and a desire to feel supported by the board.
Her question: How do we hold this? How do we have enough room at the table for all these perspectives? Responses:
Your feelings of fear are valid. When people address distrust, it’s often seen as a personal attack rather than addressing a systemic issue. “I’m feeling this way because of the systems we are caught in.”
One director has her staff read How to Be An Anti-Racist.
Introduce the strategy of “third-pointing”- having another party’s ideas to reflect on together, uniting the group to a common vision.
Topic: How much do you communicate to your parents about your anti-racism work or mission?
Tries to be authentic about what she is learning about and expressing her intentions.
Creating a book club w/ anti-racism resources with parents.
It’s okay to be uncomfortable- nature is an amazing teacher.
Session C: Handling COVID safety/protocols
Introductions; everyone shared where they’re at with summer camps, fall reopening plans. Two directors have been running summer camps with COVID safety protocols, so this session turned into a sort of Q and A with them.
For one school, masks were 100% required, and they were surprisingly a nonissue. Had campers as young as three. Most kids wore them the whole day, no one cried or refused to wear it, and kids were responsible about moving masks up over noses when asked. The youngest kids needed more reminders, but still put the masks back up whenever they were asked. This program saw about 50 kids total over the course of the summer. Shared a cute kid quote: “you know, the coronavirus is gonna be with us for a while, and we just need to take care of other people!”
At another school, masks weren’t required for the younger kids (5 and under); they mostly did not wear masks or were pulling masks down. Last week - all “older kids” (5-8) wore masks without problems. This camp required masks when close to other people but not when spread out.
Q: How did you prep parents for safety guidelines?
Pre-camp paperwork; explained that they were following CDC and ACA guidelines. Offered to provide a mask if kids didn’t already have one. No real questions or opposition from families. Also asked parents to mask up during drop-off and pick-up. Parents mostly followed, with 1-2 exceptions.
Outdoor school kids are used to gear, backpacks, safety practices - masks fit in with this pre-existing mindset.
Emphasized to families that the ONLY way they could do camps is to follow those guidelines. Families were desperate to participate in camps, so they were willing and understanding to go along with new requirements.
Also didn’t allow kids to bring in own backpacks. Provided each kid with a tote that included supplies like crayons, scissors - stuff that, in the past, would be shared.
Q: did anyone in your program contract COVID? What were your practices?
Neither school had anyone contract COVID. They plan to follow CDC recommendations if this comes up.
Q: any changes to your staffing model?
Same teachers with the kids the whole summer; really streamlined. Occasionally had guests, who always had masks and stood at a distance. 8 kids and 2 teachers per class
Other program: 6-7 kids per group, one teacher per group with a 3rd teacher as a floater.
Challenge: one parent asked that their two kids be placed in different groups. Makes sense developmentally, but doubles exposure risks. However, they accommodate the request, and no one seemed to have an issue with it.
Q: What is your refund policy if school has to close for quarantine?
would refund summer camps
unsure about fall, but did not charge tuition during spring closure
Q: How did you manage to keep six feet of physical distancing?
Marked spaces for kids to spread out - used scarves, hula hoops
importance of consistency- even siblings need to distance; helps with complaints about fairness
Clarification: specific practices depend on your county recommendations; in some cases, kids can be closer with masks on. They mainly had to take them off to eat - that’s when physical distance markers are most important.
IMPORTANT INFO FROM THE CHAT
We had WaNPA members and friends join us from: Klamath, Modoc, and Yahooskin lands. The lands of the Jamestown S’Klallam People. Suquamish lands, now known as Bainbridge Island. Suquamish, Duwamish, and Coast Salish lands. Lenape land. Squaxin, Nisqually land. Suquamish, Duwamish land. Gabrielino-Tongva Tribal land. Samish Nation. Traditional unseated lands of the sx̌ʷəbabs - part of the Puyallup Tribe. Kittitas band of the Yakama Nation. Duwamish. The lands of the Snohomish Tribe and Coast Salish. Sxwebabs land, now considered one with the Puyallup tribe. Squaxin land in Shelton. Kittitas band of the Yakama Nation. Traditional land of the Cuhuilla tribe. Port Madison Indian Reservation in Suquamish.
Gratitude for moments in nature: Witnessing the amazing colors of a snapdragon. Filming pollinators and noticing a long horned bee! Watching beautiful birds. Enjoying the fresh air as the breeze blows the smoke from the nearby fire away from homes. Observing mysterious white eggs under a cedar leaf. All the rain is giving snails a reason to come out and say hello, and many left trails on the house wall. The squirrels outside giving a show as they swing amongst the Elm’s branches. Grateful to see everyone joining today! The breeze through our windows. The scent of the lavender blooming in my yard, and the bumblebees all around it. A harvest of raspberries and cucumbers – a fertile garden. The deer that just walked past, inviting me to look out and see more than what’s right in front of me! Watching Robins find worms in my backyard garden. The low fog rolling over Colvos Passage, and for the many many baby deer that forage on the meadows near my home. Sitting with my feet in the Dosewallips river and watching a garter snake make its stealthy way past me. The herbal plant allies growing all around me that have been supporting my nervous system in these challenging times. Watching the tide come in, and noticing that it seems to start rising slowly and then with increasing speed. Watching a baby deer safely cross a busy road. The rain this morning to help things stay green! The cool breeze from the water. Watching termite activity in a rotting tree in our yard and yellow-jackets take up residence in the same site with my 3 y/o daughter.
Keynote with Khavin Debbs We ask that Symposium participants and viewers make a donation to Khavin Debbs, our Keynote speaker for his time, knowledge, expertise and experience.
Check out @sankofaoutdoors! Instagram: kelevrah_art
Also, on Instagram, @latinooutdoors, @wilddiversity, @melaninbasecamp
“We need to open up our idea of what nature is to make it more inclusive.” - Khavin J Debbs
Some thoughts shared during Khavin’s talk:
When you asked what is nature my immediate thought was the Mother Earth!
I’m so excited to learn more about STI and think about this conversation with respect to Indigenous theory and pedagogy. Unfortunately much of the stewardship language is based upon keeping humans separate from “the nature”.
This is why, for me, I practice the concept of "Wild Tending" vs "Leave No Trace" w/ the Treeschoolers we work w/ at SOL Forest School here in NM. We are of course always encouraging an ethic of care w/ the children, but sometimes we've got to let them pick the daisies so that our kiddos can develop a relationship w/ the flower. If we always say, "Don't touch/pick the flowers" that perpetuates the idea of being separate from nature.
this seems too often happen also in 1st v 2nd generation immigrant families
Sometimes it is hard to ask questions about race because of the fear of insulting while meaning good.
“We have to do the internal work first!” YES!
DEI and these words put the onus of making change on the individuals and have the potential to lead us to assimilationist narratives of participation. I vote for justice and anti-racism so that we move towards transformative participation. Transforming the places that we want to welcome people into.
internal work is never finished
Notes from the Since Time Immemorial presentation and panel discussion with Tleena Ives and Michelle Johnson
Here are some links about Samish history, so you can learn more about Michelle's community: https://samishtribe.nsn.us/who-we-are/culture and https://samishtribe.nsn.us/who-we-are/timeline
What is your first memory of learning about Native Americans?
My first memory was second grade- The Thanksgiving story… our teachers had us dress up as “Pilgrims and Indians” (Yikes!)
In 5th grade we started to learn about Native American history but it wasn't about local tribes
My 3rd grade teacher at the beginning of the year described a whole list of amazing learning units she planned for the year and one was “native Americans” - but we never did any of the thematic units she described
Yes, same with me, early on with the false narrative about thanksgiving.
I learned about Native people’s as ‘others’ and as a people that no longer existed. I don’t even know what tribal land I grew up on…
I grew up in S. California and I remember learning about the Chumash tribe and artifacts that had been found in our local area
In Central California as a child I learned next to nothing- most of the understanding I received as a child was from false Thanksgiving narratives and the Disney Pocahontas movie. No formal education in my public school education
I remember learning about tribes in Southern California, and particularly information about their dwellings and foods they ate. But there was no cultural context for those lessons, or recognition of modern day descendants of those peoples.
I recall learning of the Lene Lenape in NJ, where I grew up, probably around the 3rd or 4th grade. Sadly I did not fully understand that there were still indigenous people in the US until I moved West (CO) in the early 90s. I was embarrassed to not have known, but I suppose that erasure certainly translated to where I grew up & the little presence of Native peoples there....
I learned about “Indians” and “Pilgrims” through a Thanksgiving story. Never learned that Indigenous people still existed!! Wow!
I grew up in AZ and learned about the local tribes
I do remember learning about Pilgrims and Indians in grade school but did not learn anything of significance until college.
Reading books written by/about colonizers (ex: “Little House on the Prairie” series)
I learned about the Montauk and Iroquois at summer camp in NY. I know there was the false Thanksgiving narrative in school, with construction paper costumes, but I don’t remember it
As an immigrant, my first encounters were through entertainment and media with white actors. First active learning in my late teens.
The first "real" knowledge I gained of native communities was when working directly with the consortium of 9 native groups living in the San Bernardino/Riversidide communities, and surveying a classroom of students from Cuhuilla background, asking them what percentage of native kids do they believe have attempted suicide.. The average reported percentage was 90%. It supposedly wasn't "accurate" based on the statistics we had, but for that to be the perception was important enough to consider.
I learned that natives wore headdresses and that they no longer exist
I grew up in the Lower Yakima Valley, and we had the normal overview of American history. In local understanding...Native Americans were represented as (them) not being a part of (our) community but being separate. And as being :-( not people to mix with (so sad)
In central Europe we love books of Karl May about Apache tribe and the fictional hero called Winnetou. It even was made into movies!!!
Contact for our presenters: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Panel Discussion: Q: What is your advice for folks whose classrooms don’t serve any native students? How do we make sure to provide essential tribal education without tokenising and perpetuating stereotypes? A: (answered in the video recording)
Resources recommended by participants: “Who’s Asking” by Megan Bang and Doug Medin Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer.
Q : What was the name of the first book you mentioned, Tleena? A: (from Tleena Ives) Native Science, Gregory Cajete
Note from a participant: In implementing some of the STI this summer. Kids became aware that Native Americans are still around today. There are some great pictures in "A River Lost" That we really were able to bring focus to the Idea of Native Americans are still here. They live among us and are a part of our communities.
“Have patience, engage in reciprocity, and respect tribal sovereignty!”
Q: My site is on land that is historically disputed between two tribes. Any advice for navigating this challenge? I hesitate to ask because I don’t want to ask y’all to do the hard work for me- please feel free to not answer if that’s your preference A: (answered on video recording)
Note from a participant: I have had success with forming relationships by listening weekly to Raven Redbone’s news/ education program “No Bones About It” radio program on KAOS radio in Olympia. Also attending events/ auctions and sharing in celebrations.
Note from a participant: Picking up on what Michele is saying, I wonder if part of the issue that we’re applying Western notions of land ownership.
Resource Tribal Map: native-land.ca From Tleena Ives : The digital version of the S'Klallam Star book, taʔt̕ə́wəsnaʔ, can be found here: https://www.pgst.nsn.us/tribal-programs/tribal-services/children-family-services/together-for-children
Contact for all our presenters: Khavin@tinytrees.org firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com