Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe
To help students learn about the history, culture, and technologies of the Native American tribes on California's North Coast, an educational program called Pathmakers is partnering with Native Makers in the region who are teaching hands-on lesson plans in Humboldt Schools that focus on Native STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math), and Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). Native Makers such as woodworkers, artists, net makers, and cultural advisors are incorporated into the classroom curriculum, and educational posters showcasing their knowledge and skills will be placed in over 30 schools throughout Humboldt County.
“There’s a rich Native American presence in Humboldt County, and it’s important that our schools represent that with the curriculum taught in classrooms. The Native Makers Pathmakers is working with have advanced knowledge, skills, and stories about the tribes in the region, and add tremendous value to the education system,” Alison Robbins, Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe’s Education Programs Executive Director, said.
Native Makers are teaching their traditional art forms in a hybrid setting during workshops offered at Northern Humboldt Union High School District and through other local partnerships with California State Parks, and Humboldt County Office of Education. For example, Hoopa traditional woodworker Keoki Burbank is teaching students how to carve redwood sticks for cooking salmon, and Karuk-Yurok artist Alme Allen’s workshop focuses on how to carve acorn mush paddles. This Fall, Keoki and Alme will be holding a session together for students on how to carve traditional redwood stools.
“We descend from a people that were very skilled makers. From basket makers to carvers. All of these things are very rich traditional arts,” Karuk-Yurok artist Alme Allen, said.
For elementary and middle school-aged students, Pathmakers educator Merry Kate Lowry is working with Humboldt County Office of Education to incorporate ‘making’ elements matched with lesson plans based on Native STEAM and TEK from an Indigenous viewpoint. The curriculum is taught monthly during ‘Family Maker Nights’ which are held virtually during the pandemic. Lesson plans add a Native STEAM element for students, such as how math is applied to traditional basketry when making Native designs, or how fire is used as a technology to carve a Yurok redwood canoe. Other topics cover Indigenous water protectors in the region, the importance of salmon to North Coast tribal communities, and fighting fire with fire to help prevent wildfires.
“Native people have the most sophisticated and sustainable natural resource management system to date. We are part of a healing process between Native and non-Native people as well as between Earth and humans. Children are our inspiration and will be better citizens, leaders, and environmental advocates as a result of Native STEAM,” Merry Kate Lowry, Pathmakers educator, said.
During the month of May, students will have the opportunity to show their projects from skills learned during making sessions, such as artwork illustrating what it means to be a water protector; or design solutions to issues affecting the local environment. During the ‘Maker Share’, cultural advisors will review submitted work, which will then be featured on Humboldt County Office of Education’s Family Maker Night webpage for students, educators, and tribes to share.
“The Maker Movement is an opportunity for children to take an active part in education, to learn by trial and error, and develop a feeling of accomplishment through the process of creation,” Tanya Trump, Humboldt County Office of Education Family Maker Night Coordinator, said.
Furthermore, Pathmakers is partnering with California State Parks to educate students about Native making by incorporating elements into the revitalization of Sumeg Village. Students are learning how to make hazel rope during ‘youth cultural revitalization sessions.’
Pathmakers, developed by Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe, Humboldt County Office of Education, and Northern Humboldt Union High School District, is striving to bring more Native American curriculum into the classroom.
“Education is the Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe’s top priority. We are working diligently with community partners to add more Native American curriculum in the classroom that will help strengthen student achievement, and lead youth to successful careers, and help our region thrive,” Jason Ramos, Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe’s Education Board Director, said.
The Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe has established a Tribal Education Agency and is working towards creating systematic changes in Humboldt County Schools which would increase Native American student success from cradle to career.
More information about Native Makers workshops: https://bluelakerancheria-nsn.gov/pathmakers/nativemakerworkshops/
‘Maker Share’ event: https://hcoe.org/pathmakers/maker-share/