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CULTU Culturally responsive educa MAZINAIGAN PAGE 6 In 2012 a small team of educators and administrators from the Lac du Flambeau LDF Public School discussed concerns that the standard classroom environment was failing some of the Lac du Flambeau middle school students. This sparked their exploration into the theory of culturally responsive education and how it might improve the classroom experience for their students. In one report on the effectiveness of culturally responsive education the author defines the theory as Ateachingapproachthathelpsstudentsusetheirculturalbackgroundsto aid in the acquisition of knowledge skills and attitudes. Culturally responsive teachers use culturally relevant instructional material affirm student cultural identities and use cultural backgrounds as a knowledge base for learning and academic success. Further family involvement and community partnership are encouraged. While interesting to think about this is not an entirely new concept in tribal communities. Culturally guided knowledge has always been taught within tribes through stories community activities and hands-on experiences. In Ojibwe this cultural knowledge is taught using Anishinaabe teachings or giikendaasowin. This traditional education system proved effective for millennia but is not generally incorporated into modern classrooms. After much discussion the school determined that restoring giikendaasowin and traditionalteachingmethodsintheclassroomwereapriorityandessentialtothesuccess of many of their tribal students. However they understood that the undertaking was not going to be a simple or overnight process. To begin they consulted community elders as well as colleagues with experience in culturally responsive education. Everyone seemed to echo the importance of being both inclusive and collaborative so early on they made a commitment to listen to students staff and community before any decisions were made. With this commitment in mind organizers began by asking questions such as If you could design an education program what would it look like What would help you learn more easily in school What makes a good teacher What are some of the biggest obstacles students face in their current learning environment Feedback from their surveys found a community-wide desire for a program that teaches students based on their learning styles offers hands-on opportunities and gives students the ability to self-supervise major projects. But most importantly the programneedstoholdgiikendaasowininitscore.UltimatelytheENVISIONprogram was founded to fulfill these goals and provide a setting for their tribal students that goes above and beyond the standard classroom learning environment. According to organizers ENVISION is a project-based learning program with Ojibwe culture at its heart. One example of a collaborative learning project is called Wiigwaasi-Jiimaan These Canoes Carry Culture. This project was launched out of the Lac du Flambeau Public School and partnered with representatives from the University of Wisconsin to complete a traditional wiigwaasi-jiimaan birch bark canoe and to enhance views of NativeAmerican cultures among Ojibwe youth and within the University of Wiscon- sin community at large. Completed in 2013 more information on the Wiigwaasi- Jiimaan These Canoes Carry Culture project is available at exhibitCanoeLdFCanoe_subpage_Education.html Uponthecompletionofthewiigwaasi-jiimanENVISIONstudentsstartedlooking forward toward their next big project. Projects can generally be anything depending on what the students want to learn but this time students posed the ever-important question How did we survive in the winter This triggered the next big project of the ENVISION program a bibooni-wiigiwaam winter lodge. Bibooni-wiigiwam Similar to the canoe the design and construction of a wiigiwaam requires an intimate knowledge of the natural world. Students need to learn how to find and har- vest the materials they need how to process and use what theyve harvested as well as apply practical knowledge in math science and survival to construct a functional lodge.Butbeyondthisstudentslearntheculturalsignificanceandteachingbehindthe wiigiwaam and how to be respectful of their teachers as well as the natural resources. The entire process start to finish is a combination of lessons that generally cannot be learned in a standard classroom environment. Program Director Wayne Valliere says When we teach the children we teach from the beginning and the importance of what they are learning. Some plants are used for food and others for healing. Each element has a name a story and a soul. As Natives we look at all things as relatives and not as resources to be harvested. They help you to live to be well to thrive and be happy. Always only take what youre going to use and always leave something for seed for your grandchildren. Wiigiwaam design began with field notes taken while an elder spoke about this type of lodge in 1978. This turned out to be one of very few documents describing the schematics of a winter lodge yet was detailed enough to use as a basis to sketch a plan. Literally starting from the ground up the ENVISION team began by digging a circular pit into the soil about two feet deep and about ten feet in diameter. They then filled this pit with fieldstone up to ground level leaving an open area in the center for the fire to be built. Traditionallystoneswerecarriedtolocationsoverlongperiodsoftimeasfamilies would reuse the lodge location for multiple generations. Today the team moved the stones via pick-up truck to the locationnine pick-up loads to be exact. Once the stones were in place clay from Gichigami was placed on top leaving the firespace open creating the wiigiwaam floor and an in-ground firepit in the center. Asmall chimney was dug next to the lodge to reach below ground and into the side of the fieldstones. This allows the below ground fire to vent through the stones and out of the chimney virtually creating the very first heated floor effect. Next above the heated floors began the construction of the lodge or rather lodges. For a winter shelter the ENVISION team needed to build two wiigiwaams the first slightly smaller and covered with traditional birch bark wiigwaas shell and the second is built over the smaller wiigiwaam but with a more durable shell of cedar bark giizhik-wanigek. The main structure of the frame is shaped using ininaatigoog maple saplings as the worker trees. These worker trees were harvested from the Lac du Flambeau reservationandsecuredusingbasswoodwiigob.ExercisingtheTribestreaty-reserved Links youth to natural resou Article Photos by Alex Wrobel GLIFWC Forest Ecologist The fire pit is in the center of the wiigiwam. A ventilation chimney. When we do these projects were recognizing the people who still have that knowledgeandhowthosepeopleneedtobetreasured.Communities need to recognize that once these teachers walk-on this traditional knowledge is at risk of being lost. The kids here and all those involved with this program dont have to be related to the teachers. They dont even have to be native but they do need to help carry on the knowledge. Wayne Valliere ENVISION program director