Bioneers Indigeneity Education Takes Off
Indigeneity is a Native-led Program within Bioneers that promotes Indigenous approaches to solve the earth’s most pressing environmental and social issues. The program produces the Indigenous Forum, original media, educational curricula and catalytic initiatives to support the leadership and rights of First Peoples, while weaving net- works, partnerships and alliances among Native and non-Native allies. The program’s educational initiatives are truly one-of-a-kind, yielding resources and experiences that provide deeply meaningful cultural and cross-cultural education to students and teachers around the country.
To support the use of Bioneers’ original content in the classroom, we’ve developed study guides and lesson plans aligned with national standards for grades 9-12+. This curriculum offers educators an invaluable toolkit for optimizing the educational potential of evergreen Bioneers media.
We created our first educational study guides in 2015 on topics including “Biocultural Conservation in the Amazon” led by Chief Almir (Surui Tribe), and “Survive and Thrive” based on the teachings of John Mohawk (Seneca).
We expanded these efforts in 2017 through the establishment of the “Indigeneity Learning” curriculum. Units are organized thematically, covering topics including, Cultural Appropriation, Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change, and Native Americans and Racism. Each unit includes full educator support materials including a lesson plan, scripted teacher presentations, original media featuring Indigenous subject matter experts, additional readings, discussions, activities, and assessment.
In 2018, we piloted this curricula with high school students from across the U.S. Our evaluation showed significant learning and transformative growth among students of all backgrounds. Students demonstrated a more sophisticated understanding of Indigenous topics, an increased ability to empathize, and a greater ability to articulate complex issues from a cross-cultural perspective.
In 2020, we developed four curriculum bundles on the topics of “Water is Life,” “Alcatraz,” “Borderlands,” and “Honoring Women.” Each curriculum bundle includes teacher instructions, activities, assessment, and additional materials for a week of instruction aligned to the lesson’s theme. We also created a training for students of all ages to learn about Allyship with Indigenous Peoples. These curricula can be accessed free of charge on our dedicated Indigeneity Curriculum webpage. In 2021, we plan to add four more curriculum bundles to the collection.
This body of work represents a unique opportunity to bring Indigenous-created curriculum into both formal education and non-formal learning environments.
Intercultural Conversations (ICC) is an educational exchange between 20 Native American and 20 non-Native, diverse youth. Participants meet once a month to discuss thematic topics presented in Bioneers Indigeneity media in a “talking circle” format.
Between these meetings, facilitators present accompanying lesson plans that equip them to teach Indigenous topics in the classroom through a “train the trainer” model supported by Bioneers Indigeneity staff. Months of learning and dialogue culminate with in person cultural exchanges on the Navajo Nation and at the annual Bioneers Conference.
Intercultural Conversations Curriculum employs a transformative approach that enables students to view concepts, issues, and events from multiple perspectives. Instead of being treated as passive learners, youth participants are engaged as change-makers, and supportively encouraged through Indigenous pedagogies.
Through this process, youth participants experience profound personal development in their ability to relate to and empathize with others, understand complex issues, and communicate cross-culturally. 2020 marked our 4th year and cohort for the Intercultural Conversations initiative.