In my most successful teaching moments I become invisible. I witness students light up with enthusiasm as they share their stories and go on to mentor others. A sense of power and pride wells up in them. They embrace their ancestors’ rich traditions and carry that knowledge forward as their own. These are the moments I strive for, but they are not easily attained. It has taken me years of practice.
Advice for Educators
The Master of Arts degree program in human services at Sinte Gleska University on South Dakota’s Rosebud Sicangu Lakota reservation has enjoyed success delivering an exciting and relevant graduate program in tribal and behavioral health.
Offering young adult literature that features Native American protagonists promotes cultural identity, validates their own experiences, and motivates them to read.
An intense, well-designed collaborative effort yields a better reflection of student gains in writing and and gives middle, high school, and college teachers and staff a chance to share strategies and goals.
At a time when American Indians are drastically underrepresented in the hard sciences, and as federal agencies show interest in addressing the issue, Salish Kootenai College’s success in starting a four-year life sciences degree program virtually from scratch can offer guidance to other tribal colleges wishing to establish similar programs.
Recently, I witnessed many Native people of all ages and tribes sharing Native intellectual knowledge of generosity, talent, leadership, and spirituality at the gathering of the Woksape Oyate. Lakota for “Wisdom of the People,” Woksape Oyate is a project of the American Indian College Fund meant to build intellectual capital at tribal colleges.
Students and faculty at the College of the Muscogee Nation (CMN, Okmulgee, OK) created a service learning project last school year that linked students with community elders, and they hope the project will provide a model for future projects.
Dissertation research on non-native faculty at tribal colleges identifies ways administrators can offer support.
Grant-funded literary discussion project brings students, college employees, and community members together to discuss shared challenges of preserving American Indian identity in a society of cultural assimilation.
Haskell Indian National University instructor shares her students’ reactions to her grandmother’s “First Fire Story.”