LouAnne Hoskinson (Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe)
Tribal College and University: Salish Kootenai College
Major: Early Childhood Development
American Indian College Fund Indigenous Visionary Fellows partnered with Salish Kootenai College (SKC) Early Learning Center (ELC) Parent Meetings to provide cultural experiences for the parents of SKC’s Learning Center students.
Culturally appropriate early childhood programs are designed to expose not just students but entire families to their Native cultures, allowing adults to reinforce the learning students are exposed to. The meetings with parents were designed to do just that, while also ensuring that SKC partnered with local organizations and vendors and community members.
This year the fellows collaborated with the SLED Program, an Adult Salish Language Immersion Program, and Tim Ryan, who teaches science courses, to host an event titled Integrated Perspective in Science for Education. Ryan shares his knowledge of making traditional Salish tools from local natural resources.
This is the second year the Indigenous Visionaries worked with the Salish Kootenai College Early Learning Center Parent Meetings to provide cultural learning opportunities for the entire family. We purchased materials for families to make a hand drum, and Elder Steven Small Salmon and Chauncy Beaverhead came and shared storytelling and copies of children’s books written in Salish with children and their families.
Events included culturally appropriate and nutritious meals, including Indian tacos, buffalo roasts with wild rice pilaf, salads, fry bread and more.
The first meeting was held in conjunction with an SKC event showcasing how to build a meat drying rack on campus. SLED Program students spent the day cutting buffalo meat to dry on the rack, while others learned the proper way to dry the meat using the racks. Older preschool students took a trip also got a closer look at the meat drying process and spent time learning about how to make rope from local branches. In the evening, parents and SKC early learning students were invited to a hands-on cattail reed mat and rope-making workshop with Tim Ryan, who demonstrated for attendees. In addition to taking home their mat and rope projects, each family also took home a bag or two of the dried meat students prepared.
For communities who seeking to regain their cultural practices, the opportunities to learn together are precious. And by providing culturally appropriate meals, the Indigenous Visionaries are ensuring that students who may be experiencing food insecurity have both a nutritious meal.
Everyone was thrilled to learn how to make these things, from the youngest to the oldest.
Tim shared a few other things he teaches in his class as well, like how to make a fish trap out of Red Willow, how to make Hawthorne Fishhooks, and more.
This information is so valuable and needs to be passed along to all our future generations. We cannot let these skills and traditions go to the wayside and be lost forever.
The next large Parent Meeting consisted of the telling of some local Coyote Stories. It is the Salish custom that Coyote Stories are only told in the winter months when the snow is on the ground. Parents were told this as well as some other details that are involved with the telling of Coyote Stories. We not only got to hear them, but we also got to see them acted out by students in the SLED Program and other SKC students. Some of the youth that came with their families were also invited to join in. What a tremendous blessing from the Creator to be able to share these timeless stories of the past with a new generation.
The following three parent meetings consisted of constructing moccasins for the students at the Early Learning Center so that they could have them for the SKC Graduation pow-wow. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the pow-wow was cancelled, as well as so many other things. Thankfully the families were able to complete the moccasins for their children. They have also learned how to make moccasins for their family members, a skill that will last a lifetime.
Although what was offered was from the Salish Traditions, families from all Tribal Affiliations enjoyed the experiences that were provided. The joining of the Salish Kootenai College Indigenous Visionaries Native Women’s Leadership Fellows, Kayla Dix and myself and our mentor, Kathie Maiers, the College Fund, the Salish Kootenai College Early Learning Center, The Indigenous Science classes, The SLED Program and all the other hands helped to make these Parent nights the best they could be. We look forward to being able to continue this partnership in the years to come.
Lem Lemts’ Pesia,
Thank you all.