‘Since Time Immemorial’ Training Gets a $600K Boost


Richard Walker, Indian Country Today


A state law requires schools in Washington to teach students the history of the state’s 29 federally recognized indigenous nations, just as they teach U.S. and state history.

School districts that have adopted the “Since Time Immemorial” curriculum, which was formerly “encouraged” but is now mandatory, say the curriculum is an easy tool to use. But the curriculum encourages participation with local Native nations. “Our goal is to teach WITH tribes, rather than about them,” the curriculum states—and one of the challenges school districts report is developing the partnerships to make that happen.

RELATED: From ‘Encouraged’ to Mandatory’: Schools Must Teach Native History in Washington

Training now underway is helping to build those associations.

“Our [curriculum] trainings have doubled in both size and frequency” since the law made implementation of the curriculum mandatory, Michael Vendiola texted on July 27 from a conference in Omak on the Colville reservation. Vendiola, Swinomish, is program supervisor for the state education department’s Office of Native Education. “We are training more dynamically as well. For example, we are training more curriculum teams, administrators, and education associations.”

The training is getting a boost from Western Washington University’s Woodring College of Education, which received two grants totaling $600,000 from the Washington Student Achievement Council, a cabinet-level state agency.

“These two grants not only advance our professional development work in schools but, most significantly, forge important new efforts with Native American communities in our region,” Woodring College of Education Dean Francisco Rios said in an announcement of the grant. “It capitalizes on the strengths of our faculty while also honoring the important cultural knowledge of local indigenous communities.”

Of the funding, $400,000 is being invested in “Implementation of Since Time Immemorial: Higher Education and K-12 School Partnership Pilot Project,” a collaboration of Woodring College, The University of Washington, Western Washington University, and the state Office of Native Education.

The project will assist schools and districts that have a high number of Native American students, including Chief Kitsap Academy, which is owned and operated by the Suquamish Tribe and serves Native and non-Native students; Lummi Nation School; Marysville School District, which serves students from the Tulalip Tribes; Muckleshoot Tribal School; Shelton School District, which serves students from Skokomish and Squaxin; Taholah School District, which serves students from the Quinault Nation; and Wellpinit School District, which serves students from the Spokane Tribe.

State Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, who authored the curriculum law, said it’s important that Native nations be involved because the curriculum is “only a baseline curriculum.” The curriculum includes such topics as “Exploring Washington State —Tribal Homelands,” “Washington Territory and Treaty Making,” “Being Citizens in Washington: The Boldt Decision,” and “Encounter, Colonization and Devastation.” But those courses are not localized; the involvement of local indigenous nations can help students understand those subjects on the local level.

The project is providing training workshops, professional development and coaching to teachers, administrators and paraprofessionals.

“Our entire team of diverse partners is dedicated to providing professional development that teaches regional tribal government, culture and history through the STI curriculum,” said Kristen French, associate professor of elementary education at Western Washington University.

“We are thrilled to have this grant because we can contribute and build on the good work that [the state Office of Native Education] and state Sen. John McCoy have done to improve Indian education,” she said, adding that six of seven team members are Native women trained in education.

Vendiola’s wife, Michelle, is “Since Time Immemorial” grant coordinator at Woodring College.

“With an emphasis on culture and identity, we expect this work to have long-term impact on the academic achievement of Native students, as well as all Washington state students,” she said in the grant announcement. “Ultimately, we are honored to participate in the improvement of future relationships between tribal communities and mainstream Washington state citizens.”

An example of how the involvement of local Native nations can bolster knowledge of Native culture and the environment Native and non-Native students share is “Science and the Swinomish,” a collaboration of Western Washington University, the Shannon Point Marine Center and the Swinomish Tribe.

The project received $200,000 in funding to train teachers and administrators in the La Conner and Concrete school districts, two districts serving Swinomish students.

The partnership will “personalize the STI curriculum and develop hands-on science lessons focused on the restoration and care of the environment essential to maintaining the traditional Swinomish way of living,” said Tim Bruce, an instructor at Woodring College.

Teachers and principals will receive training in the basics of the curriculum and then will dig deeper into the aspects that relate to science, focusing on locally relevant, culturally important topics such as salmon recovery, tideland impacts and water use—topics that affect everyone.

Organizers say teachers and principals will have a strong working knowledge of the curriculum by spring 2017, and will have multiple lesson plans ready for submission to a digital library where they can be shared with a wider audience.

Vendiola said feedback received from curriculum partners is helping educators innovate the curriculum in new ways.

A pre-K/early learning curriculum, titled “STI Tribal Sovereignty Early Learning Curriculum,” is a partnership of Thrive Washington—First Peoples, First Steps Alliance, and the Puget Sound ESD Native American Early Learning Project. “There are currently three pilot lessons availablefor the early learning community,” he said.

Giving Balance to History Instruction

Thirty percent of school districts in Washington are using “Since Time Immemorial,” which was developed by the state in consultation with indigenous nations in Washington.

The legislation that established STI seeks to give balance to history instruction, which has often ignored the state’s indigenous history. It also seeks to improve student knowledge of indigenous history and culture; foster cross-cultural respect and understanding; and bolster cultural sensitivity in all students.

“We do have a rich, solid history in the state, and it should be taught,” McCoy said in an earlier interview. Doing so would help students understand sovereignty and the work that indigenous nations do in their historical territories—authority that many elected officials don’t understand, McCoy said.

In addition to the above projects, regional training will be hosted in October by the Toppenish School District, on the Yakama Nation reservation; Education Service District 113, in the state capital of Olympia; the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, whose students attend schools in the North Kitsap School District; and the Lummi Nation, whose students attend Lummi schools or schools in the Ferndale School District.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/08/03/time-immemorial-training-gets-600k-boost-165325

UW Tacoma partnership with Puyallup Tribe taps ancient wisdom for innovations in learning

University of Washington


TACOMA, WASH. — The Puyallup Tribe of Indians and the University of Washington Tacoma are launching a pathbreaking collaboration that aims to infuse Native ways of knowing into UW Tacoma teaching, learning and research.

The effort will be funded initially by a $275,000 grant from the Puyallup Tribe. During a four-year period, the funding will support curriculum transformation, research activity, community engagement and student enrichment.

Puyallup Tribal Council Chairman Bill Sterud said that the collaboration highlights the unique opportunity to “meld into academia in a public sphere” the contemporary experience of Native Americans, rooted in an ancient heritage and infused with a cutting-edge entrepreneurialism.

“With an immense amount of pride, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians has committed to spearheading this program as it is essential to educate students about indigenous ways of knowing, modernity of tribal business, and tribal government. We hope that the impact of our funding will cultivate additional support from our fellow Tribes to ensure a sustainable program that will enrich the lives of many students,” said Sterud.

“We as a society have a responsibility: our unseen future must be unified with our past and our present. The Puyallup Tribe of Indians recognizes this responsibility by our support of higher education and our charitable giving. This is how we build bridges toward community success,” said Sterud.

The idea for the collaboration has emerged at a time of increased focus on the importance of sustainability: in business, government, and individual livelihoods. There is a growing awareness that the practice of sustainability can benefit from the insights offered by indigenous knowledge, with its deep place-based roots (often referred to as “traditional ecological knowledge”). UW Tacoma’s 25-year commitment to community engagement is seen by both the university and the Tribe as an opportunity to establish deep and lasting connections among Tribal and non-Indian communities throughout the Northwest.

“The heart of the collaboration between UW Tacoma and the Puyallup Tribe will be the interaction between the tribal communities and the campus community. We hope all our faculty, staff and students will gain a wider perspective on ways of interacting with the world, and we are incredibly grateful to the Puyallup Tribe for supporting this transformational vision,” said UW Tacoma Chancellor Mark A. Pagano.

The grant is intended to amplify the teaching, research and service of a growing cluster of Native American faculty and staff at UW Tacoma. The university recently hired Danica Miller (Puyallup) and Michelle Montgomery (Eastern Band Cherokee; Haliwa Saponi) as assistant professors of Native American studies in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences; and Michael Tulee (Yakama) as Native American educator in the Office of Equity & Diversity.

The grant will tap into a growing awareness of the parallel and complementary role that traditional ecological knowledge can play alongside “scientific ecological knowledge.” Examples of how the melding of these two approaches has led to better understanding include forest fire management, water resources management, endangered species protection and fisheries management.

“This grant from the Puyallup Tribe will help address one of the greatest barriers faced by Native people today: the lack of information, and the abundance of misinformation, the general public has about tribes and tribal people. As the work of this grant ripples out, our students, faculty and staff will share in a great communal experience with roots much deeper than the 25-year history of UW Tacoma,” said Sharon Parker, UW Tacoma assistant chancellor for equity and diversity.

The Puyallup Tribe has been providing ongoing support to UW Tacoma and the University of Washington overall for many years, including to the UW School of Law, and events at UW Tacoma such as the annual Martin Luther King., Jr., Unity Breakfast and Convocation. This new grant is, by far, the Tribe’s largest investment in the relationship with the university.

An Indian Education for All

By Matt Remle


Matt Remle (blue shirt) with Denny Hurtado and Michael Vendiola from the Office of Native Education providing testimony to the Marysville School Board to adopt the STI curriculum. Photo by: Tulalip News/ Brandi N. Montreuil
Matt Remle (blue shirt) with Denny Hurtado and Michael Vendiola from the Office of Native Education providing testimony to the Marysville School Board to adopt the STI curriculum. Photo by: Tulalip News/ Brandi N. Montreuil


The Washington State legislature has introduced a bill requiring Northwest tribal history, culture, and government to be taught in the common schools.

Washington SB 5433 is an amendment to the 2005 House Bill 1495.  H.B. 1495 “encouraged” Washington State school districts to teach Northwest tribal history, culture, and government.  The Since Time Immemorial tribalsovereignty curriculum (STI) grew out of H.B. 1495 and was developed in partnership with the 29 tribes in WA State and the State’s Office of Native Education.

Since its passage, only two school districts in the state have adopted STI as core, or mandated, curriculum.  The Marysville school district located just north of Seattle and whose school boundaries include the Tulalip tribes became the most recent to do so.

State law makers are now seeking to have the curriculum required in the State’s schools with the introduction of S.B. 5433.

S.B. 5433 states:

The legislature recognizes the need to reaffirm the state’s commitment to educating the citizens of our state, particularly the youth who are our future leaders, about tribal history, culture, treaty rights, contemporary tribal and state government institutions and relations and the contribution of Indian nations to the state of Washington. The legislature recognizes that this goal has yet to be achieved in most of our state’s schools and districts. As a result, Indian students may not find the school curriculum, especially Washington state history curriculum, relevant to their lives or experiences. In addition, many students may remain uninformed about the experiences, contributions, and perspectives of their tribal neighbors, fellow citizens, and classmates. The legislature finds that more widespread use of the Since Time Immemorial curriculum developed by the office of the superintendent of public instruction and available free of charge to schools would contribute greatly towards helping improve school’s history curriculum and improve the experiences Indian students have in our schools. Accordingly, the legislature finds that merely encouraging education regarding Washington’s tribal history, culture, and government is not sufficient, and hereby declares its intent that such education be mandatory in Washington’s common schools.”

If passed, Washington State would become the second state to mandate the teaching of tribal sovereignty curriculum. Montana is currently the only state to mandate Indian education for all state schools when it passed House Bill 528— the Indian Education for All Act, in 1999.

Matt Remle (Lakota) works for the Office of Indian Education in the Marysville/Tulalip school district and was on the curriculum committee that helped pass the districts requirement to teach the Since Time Immemorial tribal sovereignty curriculum in the Marysville schools.