From Montana to New Mexico: Updates from Spring 2018 Dreamstarter Teachers

Ronan Middle School, Montana

Dreamstarter Teacher Amy Miller used her $1,000 grant to help the school’s library become more culturally representative of its student body by purchasing books by and about indigenous peoples, including a classroom set of the novel “In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse” by Native American author Joseph Marshall to be taught in the seventh grade social studies classes.

“When I first applied for this grant, I was operating on a hunch that kids would be excited to see more books that reflected their lived experiences in their library. As a new librarian, I was dismayed at how poorly our collection reflected the cultural identity of our student body, and with my limited budget, I felt overwhelmed by the task of changing it. This grant, along with the generous infusion of cash from our Title VII committee, helped me take a significant first step toward changing the climate of our school’s library. While there is still so much work to be done, I am proud that when students walk into their library, books by Native authors and accurate, authentic portrayals of Native peoples are highlighted and visible. I am encouraged to see students taking an interest in the language and culture table and to watch them gain confidence in learning the Salish language.”

Amy was able to purchase hundreds of books including novels, memoirs, biographies, graphic novels and more by and about Native peoples to ensure that students have easy access to language and cultural resources. She noted that the book, “Son Who Returns” by Native author Gary Robinson became their number one top circulating book.

“This has helped to make tribal culture and language a prominent feature of the library,” she reported.

Santa Fe Indian School Kewa Keres Class, New Mexico

Teacher William Pacheco used his $1,000 grant to enhance Kewa Keres language classes by integrating hands-on learning activities into their curriculum. William purchased food dehydrators and equipment for packing dehydrated foods to allow students to engage with food preservation practices, while utilizing their language.

“We wanted to make a connection to food preservation practices and current food trends,” he reported. “The dehydration unit is a part of a year-long curriculum that allows students to have experience in planting, harvesting, seed saving and food saving, and then repeating the cycle.”

The project introduced students to the dehydration process and connected them to traditional food saving practices, all the while using their language for the hands-on activities, said William.

St. Labre Indian School, Montana

Earlier this year, teacher Roanne Hill used her $1,000 Dreamstarter Teacher grant to pull together a cultural gala featuring a prayer by an elder, a Crow language bowl and an Apsaalooke push dance competition.

“The program brought Crow students from three different schools together to celebrate being Crow,” reported Roanne. “It brought a sense of community and for the one day it didn’t matter they all went to different schools – they were all members of one tribe.”

Help American Indian Youth by Donating Today!