On Monday, October 11, our entire school and 12 parent chaperones walked to Yerba Buena Gardens to attend the 3rd Annual Indigenous Peoples’ Day event. Yerba Buena Gardens, in partnership with the International Indian Treaty Council, hosted a celebration that showcased the vastly diverse and talented community of Indigenous artists in the Bay Area and California. Students were exposed to Indigenous dances, foods, and art. "They [Native American performers] were very inclusive and invited people to participate in the circle and dance with them. We missed the Aztec dance, but saw them walk by with their cool headdresses. They had many different feather colors and some had beads across their eyes. Some people also had painted faces (black and white face paint). We learned that the colors of the face paint have meaning, too, like symbolizing protection.”
Teachers have also been incorporating Native American concepts/knowledge/awareness into their classroom. Below are two highlights.
Lower School: I shared an Indigenous Tribes map of California to my students. We then zoomed in on San Francisco and looked specifically at Indigenous tribes right here where we live. I prompted students with a few questions, including...
• What do we know about these tribes?
• What do we think we know?
• Why is it important and valuable to learn about our Indigenous communities?
We also did some preparation before the field trip in which we had discussions about how to be respectful when we attend a cultural event.
• What should our actions look like today?
• What should our words sound like at this event?
High School: My students have been introduced to Native knowledge, and I'm facilitating the start of a regular Monday activity (15 min) for this year in science -- starting on Monday, 10/11. The basis of what I'm doing is from Dr. Greg Cajetea, Tewa native (Pueblo Native American) and scholar. My goal is to introduce my students to Indigenous thinking, the creation of knowledge, perspective, patterns, systems - and make this a regular thing throughout the school year. Native science is highly complex from tribe to tribe, and involves how a group of people relate to their landscape and Earth itself - it takes more than one activity to acknowledge, and also to acknowledge that every culture ultimately develops its own "science" or way of knowing.
Stay tuned for more stories on how we’re integrating cultural awareness and events into our curriculum.