It’s that time of year again! Presentations, exhibitions and events are being held all around the country in celebration of Native American Heritage Month. For our part, we, the Bioneers Indigeneity Program staff, have been busy organizing our Second Annual Decolonize Thanksgiving feast (you can read about last year’s flagship event here), and getting ready to launch three new Indigeneity curriculum bundles on topics including cultural appropriation, Indigenous Human Rights, and Standing Rock.
You may be surprised to learn that high-quality, fully teacher-supported Native American Studies media and curricula featuring authentic Native voices and worldviews are nearly impossible to find. The Bioneers Indigeneity Program is changing that.
At the Indigeneity Program, we believe that ALL PEOPLE have the right to learn the truth about Indigenous histories, worldviews, and approaches to the world’s biggest environmental and social problems all year round. So when the Bioneers Conference ends, we start editing our videotapes from the annual Indigenous Forum Panels, and working with our speakers to develop educational materials for learners of all ages. (Curious? Check out our YouTube Indigeneity playlist).
This year, we programmed the Indigenous Forum with these bigger goals in mind, and brought together the most powerful group of Indigenous activists, scholars, educators, healers, and youth from North America and the Pacific to share their stories and experiences taking on the world’s most destructive mining corporations, fighting racism in school, and directly combatting climate change with Indigenous solutions born out of thousands of years of cultivating island-wisdom.
Here’s what a few Bioneers Conference attendees had to say about the 2017 Indigenous Forum Panels.
About “Fighting Racism in School”:
“This workshop was very valuable because I got to hear first-hand struggles that the speakers went through. It’s amazing that people at such a young age stood up against ignorance, even in Kindergarten!”
“WOW! These young people are fantastic!—their intelligence, their heart, their courage, who they are—phenomenal. They give me hope for the future!”
About “Rights of Nature”:
“I learned a lot of knowledge but mostly wisdom and advice on how to view the world and about the fact that nature is not a property/commodity.”
About “Fighting Climate Change Across the Pacific”:
“I am now more motivated than ever to come to the foreground of the fight for natural protection. I am eager to use my two hands, mind, and heart to help.”
“The diversity of Indigenous groups represented and the intricacy of the storytelling and lessons were amazing! Thank you.”
We designed these panels in the wake of the passing of California Assembly Bill 738 mandating Native American Studies curriculum for all public school-going children. Instead of erasing California Indians from history, or pretending that the Mission System was a “good influence,” we think everyone deserves to learn the real history of America and the beauty of our living cultures and survival against all odds. So, we brought together California Indian knowledge bearers—tribal chairpersons, storytellers, and educators—to tell the true stories of what happened to their families during the California genocide. We agree that the resulting footage—which we will release soon and incorporate into curriculum bundles that meet state and federal standards—is the best we have ever seen.
Since we wrapped the 2017 Bioneers Conference, we have received nonstop requests to make the 2017 Indigenous Forum footage available online.
To make this dream a reality, we need your help to edit and produce them and develop accompanying lifelong-learner workshops, discussion guides, and fully supported teacher’s edition guides for our high-school level curriculum bundles.
In the coming year, our media and educational focus will be on:
- How teens can address bullying in school taking lessons from the Indigenous Forum panel featuring three inspirational California Indian teens who fought racism against Native Americans in their schools;
- Sharing the truth about the California Indian Genocide—largely unknown by the public, but discussed in historical circles as the worst racially-motivated mass-murder in American history; and,
- Practical ways to tackle the climate change crisis rooted in Pacific Island worldviews, philosophy and first-hand experience observing and addressing sea level rise, ecosystem disruption, and ocean acidification.
All this work is Native-directed and led by our experienced Indigeneity staff and contractors, including: Program Director, Cara Romero (Chemehuevi) who has led complex multi-media educational work for over 20 years; Alexis Bunten, PhD (Aleut/Yup’ik) who has developed award-winning curriculum and educational publications and documentaries; Dylan McLaughlin (Diné) talented film-maker of Invisible Laboratories; and Jade Begay (Diné) who led the powerhouse Indigenous Rising media campaign out of Standing Rock last year.
So for Native American Heritage Month, consider joining the Indigeneity team with your contribution to make free, easily accessible media and curriculum bundles that are “plug and play” for parents and educators who want to teach our children the real story of America. Be a part of the Bioneers Indigeneity Program’s movement to empower our Nation’s youth with the knowledge and skills to fight against the voices of racism, environmental destruction, and inequality that have been so prominent (and frankly, traumatizing our kids) over the past 12 months. As 2017 comes to an end, we need funding to cover the hard costs of video editing, bringing together a Native American educational advisory board, and distribution to get our unique curriculum into the hands of as many people as possible.
Do feel free to download the Standing Rock Primer or the Cultural Appropriation Discussion Guide and Lesson Plan so you can get a firm concept of the high quality and impact these educational bundles will have to shape our kids into social and environmental justice leaders.
Cara Romero and Alexis Bunten