November is Native American Heritage Month, also referred to as American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. This is a time to celebrate the rich ancestries, traditions, and histories of Native Americans. While school population data shows ‘American Indian / Alaska Native’ as an ethnic group, American Indians are in fact composed of thousands of independent nations, communities, and cultures that have very different and specific identities. Adams Elementary sits on the land originally inhabited by the Duwamish Tribe.
Earlier this year, Seattle Public Schools put out a powerful short film, I am Native
to showcase Native Seattle Public School high school students and staff. “This film was made to affirm and honor Native American students in SPS, and to create identity safety, as many Native students feel invisible in their schools, here and across the nation,” shares Gail Morris, the SPS Native American Education program manager. SPS has some great programs and resources for families with Native heritage, including the Huchoosedah Native Education Department which includes a Native Education Parent Advisory Committee.
Donna, an Adams parent with Native American heritage, provided some insights into her experience in our community: "My husband and I are both Native American, and my middle son gets support from the Huchoosedah Native Education service. I think it varies school to school, but between my own experience and listening to many Native families, it can be overwhelming at times. It can be difficult to feel included in the Adams environment, mainly due to lack of resources and school demographics. I’m glad Adams has an equity committee - quite a few schools don't yet and it will bring awareness how to better educate both people of color and also white population. With education usually comes more awareness for all involved.”
Oyate, a publisher and reviewer of books whose mission is to see that the lives and histories of Native people are portrayed with honesty and integrity, features many books for all ages on their website. I also hear that There, There, the debut novel by Native author Tommy Orange is a very good book for adults that puts Native American voices front and center.
As part of the Adams Equity Committee, we’ll be highlighting the different cultures and backgrounds that make up our Adams community of families. Our next spotlight will be around Black History Month - if you identify as Black or African Ancestry and would like to share any experiences or stories about being part of the Adams community (anonymously or not), please email firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you are interested in helping to create a culture of equity and belonging at Adams, please email email@example.com to get involved.