NAYA’s New Summer School Program

NAYA’s New Summer School Program

An Intersection Between Indigenous Knowledge and High School Education.

This summer NAYA received funding to develop a pilot project in experiential Indigenous education. With support from the National Urban Indian Family Coalition (NUIFC), NAYA will host youth from July 2nd to August 3rd in the
Resurgence Summer School. This year’s theme is “Responsibility to Ourselves, Our Land, and Our Water,” connecting modern sustainability to personal responsibility, and maintaining traditional relationships with the land.

We will be partnering with the Columbia Slough Watershed Council and Wisdom of the Elders to provide outdoor excursions, community gatherings and opportunities to cultivate inter-generational relationships

The school will kick off with a traditional salmon bake directed by Chief Wilbur Slockish, Klickitat, who will be guiding students through construction of a traditional salmon pit on the NAYA campus, where it will remain for future events to prepare healthy and spiritually-rooted traditional foods.

Every day will begin with a smudge, prayer, and storytelling. The school will also include weekly hikes to natural areas to help students make connections to their local environment.

“We know that being out in nature contributes to well-being – that’s backed up by traditional knowledge and by modern science,” says ECA Principal Lisa Otero. “Our goal is to have our youth get connected with nature, show them the benefits of being outdoors, and show them how accessible it is – because these places are very close by.”

The group’s nature hikes will be led by ECA math teacher Laura Payne, who has experience leading youth camping and backpacking trips. Other ECA staff teaching this summer include Spanish instructor Mare Ramirez, science teacher Kristy Cordero and Principal Lisa Otero. With the goal of “decolonizing our drinks” through the Drop Sugary Drinks Campaign, funded in part by a grant from the Notah Begay III Foundation, NAYA Community Health Worker Jennifer Brixey, Choctow, will provide students with a variety of healthy drinks and teas using foods harvested on student field trips. The school will wrap up with a field trip and a two night camping trip.

ECA staff is developing the program for the short summer session with the hope of expanding it throughout the school year. This experiential, project based curriculum, offered through our culturally specific lens and designed with a framework for 21st Century Learning, will prepare our students with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in work, life and citizenship.

We respectfully thank Chief Slockish for sharing his knowledge with our students.