September 01, 2008

Schools with Native designs

Tribal schools expand role preserving native cultures

New designs focus on symbolism, tribal rituals and eco-friendly features A new K-12 school now under construction near Auburn by the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe will be rich in symbolism, referencing the geography of the tribe’s land between two rivers as well as the path that children take toward adulthood. The school will also pay tribute to the four seasons.

The design of each building in the four-building complex will support tribal identity and traditions. And each building will represent a step in the development of a child, a deliberate hierarchy that brings children into contact with older children and ultimately adults. An exterior fire pit and story circle as well as a freestanding fireplace in the library will support the tribe’s oral tradition.
Another example:The Chief Leschi School of the Puyallup Tribe likewise makes extensive use of wood.

A sacred circle at the center of the campus acknowledges an orientation of the four directions and a belief that life is a journey from east to west, infancy to old age, as the sun crosses the sky. The building forms that radiate from the circle incorporate universal elements of the sea, the valley and mountain into a unified whole.
And:More than most non-natives, tribal communities value their geographical place because it is inevitably linked with their culture. The spirituality of the place informs the communities’ beliefs and rituals.

Wisconsin’s Indian Community School meanders ribbon-like for a quarter of a mile on a 124-acre site that includes wetlands, hills, prairies and woodlands.

At one end of the building, an amphitheater around a tree symbolizes the tradition of oral history for the Oneida, Menomonee and Stockbridge-Munsee Indian tribes. Metal beams in the ceiling near the main doorway represent the migratory paths of birds and a breakout classroom overlooks wetlands.
Comment:  Compare the Native approach to schools with the Western approach described in Deconstructing the Classroom. Notice any difference?

Needless to say, all this effort to incorporate traditional values into Native schools is happening because of Indian gaming.

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