My dream is to start a Hupa Language and culture immersion school in my community.
I know this is a huge dream that can’t be accomplished in one summer. Therefore, my dreamstarter project is to start a 4-day Hupa language and culture immersion camp with 5-6 year olds. Through this process we can start to work with potential students for the school, train potential teachers, build curriculum and most importantly start to build excitement and support for this type of initiative.
It was a long and sometimes difficult process to prepare for the camp. I along with elders, community members and employees of the Education department started to plan the details of the camp. We discussed when and where it would be as well as the curriculum. I really wanted to be able to help support the current language learning initiatives in the community any way that I could. The Headstart and Early Childhood programs received a grant to increase language instruction in their classrooms and hopefully move towards immersion. It was a great opportunity then for our camp to be at the Early Childhood facilities, so that we could demonstrate what an immersion class looks, feels and sounds like. The placement also really worked out great because it was in walking distance of two key places that I wanted to students of the camp to visit: Senior nutrition and the creek.
The Coyote Curriculum
The major inspiration for the curriculum was a coyote story: Xontehł-taw łixun yixonehłts’e:tł’ (Coyote and the sweet thing that smashed him). This was a story told to me by my Aunt, and one of our last fluent speakers, Verdena Parker. In the story coyote finds out that he can get candy from a cave and keeps asking for bigger and bigger pieces until finally it smashes him. This would often be told to kids to teach them not to be greedy. Coyote is one of our greatest teachers. He shows us what not to do, and that there are always consequences for our actions.
Each morning of the camp we would play the story in the language. My hope was that by the end of the 4 days they would have a general understanding of what the story was and be able to follow along. We were fortunate enough to have a talented artist at our disposal so she was able to illustrate the story for us as well as make puppets for a puppet show! We realized that although we wanted to build curriculum for a school, this was a summer camp so we tried to make it as fun as possible.