Indigenous Knowledge in the classroom

Indigenous Knowledge in the classroom does not need to be an intimidating topic. The integration of culture can be as simple as displaying an important item, reading a culturally inspired book or even inviting an Elder to teach the class or having the group participate in a local ceremony or even a class trip.

There are also so many opportunities to integrate Indigenous Knowledge into the curriculum (even without being an expert)!

WHAT IS INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE ANYWAY? " Indigenous knowledge is to share individual knowledge and beliefs that are passed down by generations. It is to to know the value, sacredness and interconnectedness of nature's ecosystems with everything. It is knowing that it is descriptive in belief. It is knowing that relationships with one and all are sacred. It is knowing that traditions are responsible for teaching "morals" and one's way of life".- Sacha Stevens
"Two (of many!) important things I have found: From the readings I have gathered that indigenous knowledge seems to be centered around ones relationships. All relationships -relationships to oneself, the world, spirit world and each other. The other element that I have noticed reoccur is that there is a sense of place in the history/future of things. The world needs to be preserved for future generations, tradition is inherited and must be passed down, etc..". Shannon Henry (FMNI part1 canditate).
"The Indigenous world view Society operates in a state of relatedness. Everything and everyone is related. There is real belief that people, objects and the environment are all connected. Law, kinship and spirituality reinforce this connectedness. Identity comes from connections". Mary Young (FNMI part1 candidate)
Elders in the classroom, drumming, tipi teachings, class trips and traditional food at the NBIFC!

There are many supporting documents from both the ministry and educational resources. Such as: Canadian curriculum teacher helper and other such purchasable black-line masters/lesson plans that support grade specific expectations. Ministry document: Aboriginal Perspectives supports grade specific tasks that line up with every grade and which expectation best suits the teaching. Nelson Education has a series called Circle of Life that supports reading through culture. There is also the Native Reflections catalog that has many items/school supplies/cultural posters etc...

There is usually an Indigenous lead in school boards that can assist finding these documents as well. Also keep in mind that the NSL teachers can always offer ideas and help connect you with community members.

GEORGE COUCHIE'S WALKING THE PATH PROGRAM OFFERS OPPORTUNITY FOR INTEGRATION OF INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE, CULTURE AND CEREMONIES, ALL THE WHILE COVERING CURRICULUM EXPECTATIONS. (PROGRAM AVAILABLE THROUGH SCHOOL BOARD AS WELL)

Displaying something as significant as the Medicine Wheel, can be the start to sharing Indigenous Knowledge and thus creating a meaningful relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, regardless if there is an Indigenous student in the classroom. We must be sensitive to the fact that many of these students either do not self identify or do not know much about the heritage and culture.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. -- Lao Tzu --

LIVING WITH THE MEDICINE WHEEL TEACHINGS IN MIND MAKES FOR A MORE BALANCED LIFESTYLE NOT ONLY FOR ONESELF BUT IN YOUR WORK AND COMMUNITY!

THE ABORIGINAL PERSPECTIVES DOCUMENT IS VERY USER FRIENDLY AND GIVES YOU STEP BY STEP SUGGESTIONS WHERE TO INTEGRATE INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE AND CULTURE INTO THE CURRICULUM FOR EVERY GRADE/SUBJECT.
LET US PUT OUR MINDS TOGETHER AND SEE WHAT life WE CAN MAKE FOR OUR CHILDREN ---SITTING BULL

INVITING AN ELDER INTO THE SCHOOL/CLASSROOM: First and foremost, tobacco is to be offered to the Elder (a tobacco tie or a purchased pouch of loose tobacco) Also, if you can, bringing food, tea or something that they need is always helpful as well (most of the time whomever has referred you to them could help with this decision). Sometimes, depending on the Elder, he/she likes to know if they will be paid as well. Once you have asked for what you need, you should always ensure that : they have transportation to and from the destination, they have all material needed for the presentation or any protocol they would like the group to follow (if applicable)** I have found, in my experiences, that some Elders are very traditional and others not so much (ask them these questions if unsure), that they know where to find the location, that they are presented with some form of thank you, be it a collective card, gift or honorarium in the form of cash. CEREMONIES AT SCHOOL: Elders can play a vital role in assisting with planning and organizing a ceremony. Certain communities do ceremonies differently, therefore it is important to inquire about protocol. Ceremonies can be as simple as a talking circle, strawberry ceremony or a mini powwow.

Dolores Chum - Regalia teachings at MSB school 2012
INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE BELONGS IN OUR SCHOOLS AND CLASSROOMS. THE UNDERSTANDING OF THIS INTEGRAL PART OF CANADIAN HISTORY IS ESSENTIAL FOR OUR FUTURE GENERATIONS. You do not have to be Indigenous to teach aBOUT this, just like you don't have to be an artist to teach art.

IF IDENTITY COMES FROM CONNECTIONS, WHAT CONNECTIONS WILL YOU MAKE TO HELP SHAPE THE STUDENTS IN YOUR CLASSROOM?

WE smudge ourselves to cleanse our mind, body and spirit. this is sacred medicine
“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.” –Chief Seattle

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