Series to focus on educational inequities, injustices
Aug. 28, 2020
Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will sponsor a free weekly lecture series in September to acquaint the public with culturally-responsive education in Southeast Alaska and delve into the educational system as perceived through the Native world view.
The goal is to unveil the educational inequity and social injustices that have long been a part of the educational system and history in Alaska. The series will feature presenters who will speak on topics to help the community expand its understanding of the legacy of colonization and the impacts on education as it relates to Tlingit culture and history. The series is part of SHI’s goal to promote cross-cultural understanding.
SHI is hoping to reach members of the general public, as opposed to only educators, said SHI President Rosita Worl.
“We’ve sponsored cultural trainings for educators for years, because it’s so important for them to understand the Native world view when mentoring our children,” Worl said. “But it’s also important for the general public to understand our cultures and historical struggles, because our cultural survival is interrelated with non-Native people’s understanding of Native societies and cultures.”
The lectures will run from noon-1 pm each week and be streamed on SHI’s YouTube channel. People may submit questions via Facebook comments and staff will read them to speakers during the events.
Tuesday, Sept. 1
- Lecture: personal look at culturally responsive educaMy Life in Education as a Native Teacher: Ation by Shgen George, who is Dak’laweidi from Angoon and who taught for 22 years. In her talk, George will take community members on a journey through the lens of an Alaska Native educator and share examples of educational experiences throughout Southeast Alaska and the impacts on students. George will talk about things she experienced, including culturally biased curriculum, practices and policies, as well as examples that support culturally responsive teaching practices and curriculum. (Watch)
Friday, Sept. 11
- Lecture: History and Healing: A Story of Douglas by Dan Monteith, a scholar who does research and work in a variety of subjects within anthropology. In his talk, Monteith will discuss the institutional and systemic racism in Juneau and Douglas that has led to countless events that have inflicted historical trauma on Alaska Natives. In the 1950s, the City of Douglas built a school over Alaska Native graves and a cemetery. Following the building of Gastineau Elementary School, the City of Douglas and their council condemned, bulldozed, and burned many Native homes and buildings in the Native village located there. The purpose of this presentation is to discuss how we as a community acknowledge, educate, heal and compensate for this historical trauma. (Watch)
Tuesday, Sept. 15
- Lecture: History of Alaska Native Education by Chookangee Tláa (Mischa Plunkett Jackson), an assistant professor of secondary education at UAS. This presentation will take participants through history, starting at contact, to provide a backdrop and contextual understanding to different events that have shaped the educational systems in place for Alaska Natives. These events and policies have had a lasting impact on Southeast Alaska Native families and communities throughout history and today. Events from Southeast Alaska will highlight the active role that Alaska Natives have taken in attempts to push for educational reform and opportunities for future generations. (Watch)
Tuesday, Sept. 22
- Lecture: Culturally Responsive Curriculum – From Governance to Classroom by Peggy Cowan, an educational consultant working with professional organizations and the University of Alaska Southeast and former superintendent for the North Slope Borough School District. Cowan will describe a systemic approach to developing a districtwide, culturally-responsive curriculum for the North Slope Borough School District. Initiated ten years ago, this presentation will explain the roles and responsibilities from school board to teachers and will reflect on lessons learned in sustaining this work in the context of this rural school district. The effort included developing an Inupiaq Learning Framework, which articulated standards valued by the community and paired these expectations with state and national standards in academic areas in locally relevant lessons. (Watch)
Tuesday, Sept. 29
- Lecture: Crafting Change by Saankaláxt’ (Ernestine Hayes), a widely published author, Alaska Writer Laureate 2016-2018 and University of Alaska Southeast professor emerita. In her talk, Hayes will offer creative writing techniques that support a personal journey toward equity. (Watch)
Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. SHI also conducts scientific and public policy research that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee.
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