-by Victoria Mayers
(WSCSS) held March 6-8, is an annual teacher training in Chelan. This year its featured theme was The Power of Stories: From Native Washington to Global Movements. The theme evolved from a conversation held between a Nooksack Way of Life (NWoL) employee, WSCSS directors, and Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). The sixteen hour conference featured renowned Native American, teachers, entertainers, and professional speakers.
On Friday night the conference was opened with the assistance of Patsy Whitefoot and young dancers from Yakama. After dinner the keynote speaker Valerie Segrest, Muckleshoot, spoke about traditional native foods available locally from the mountain tops, to the flowing rivers, and throughout the sea beds of the ocean. Swil Kanim, Lummi, entertained the teachers during their lunch break on Saturday. Immediately after lunch a panel of tribal members addressed teacher questions about implementing culturally sensitive materials into lesson plans and overall best teaching practices.
During the Saturday evening meal, the keynote speaker Sarah Augustine from a New Mexico Tribe, spoke about the Doctrine of Discovery. A legal document that is still being used to undermine indigenous people around the world by the dominant church.
After Sunday morning breakfast, NWoL, Education Specialist Victoria Mayers presented with Michael Vendiola, Swinomish, and the current Indian Education Supervisor for OSPI. Their table discussed the requirements surrounding the mandated 1495 legislation. Michael, discussed how the terminology will be changed from “recommended” to “required” in the next teaching year. Meaning public schools will now be required to teach local Native American content material. Victoria provided a handout and offered real life examples for teachers to use when adapting their programs and lessons.
The exciting fact about this conference was that teachers really enjoyed the theme. They said it was one of the best conference they had attended. With such positive reinforcement, the NWoL team has approached the OSPI Language Art Supervisor and requested that there future English Language conference revolve around a Native American Theme as well. As of this writing the OSPI supervisor has agreed to come up to Bellingham and meet the NWoL team and learn more about the projects currently being completed at the local Mt. Baker and Nooksack Valley school districts.