Progress toward adopting California Indian vetted curriculum for California students is gaining momentum, thanks to the collaborative efforts of California Indian cultural experts across the state.
With the engaged support and collaboration of Sacramento State’s Native American Faculty/Staff Advisory Council, including Professor Brian Baker of Ethnic Studies, David Ortega of Educational Opportunity Program, and Cecilia Chavez of ENIT (Ensuring Native Indian Traditions), Dr. Rose Borunda and Dr. Mimi Coughlin hosted California Indian experts and public school educators on September 26 for the purpose of introducing California Indian vetted curriculum. Opening the event was Thomas Lozano of the Estom Yumeka Maidu Tribe of Enterprise Rancheria followed by the originator of this effort, Gregg Castro, t’rowt’raahl Salinan/ rumsien Ohlone. Other key presenters included Dr. Dale Allender and Dr. Margarita Berta-Avila; Dr. Maureen Lorimer of Cal Lutheran; Dr. Michelle Lorimer of CSU San Bernardino; Richard Johnson, Tribal Council Chairman of Nevada City Rancheria Nisenan Tribe; Dr. Beverly R. Ortiz, Cultural Services Coordinator, East Bay Regional Park District; Chelsea Gaynor, Individuals & Societies teacher, Student Council Advisor, Mitchell Middle; and concluded with a presentation by Connie Reitman-Solas, Executive Director of the Inter-tribal Council of California.
Another Curriculum Summit was held under the umbrella of the statewide California Indian Conference (CIC) at San Diego State on October 21. Dr. Borunda said the keynote speaker Merri Lopez-Keifer, a Gov. Brown appointee, as Commissioner to the Native American Heritage Commission, brought tears to her eyes when she noted that the California Indian Summits denote progress and speak to the resilience of California Indians who continue to make change in today’s world. For the first time, the Summits are being conducted in a groundswell of local support, where California Indians are providing school districts with curriculum and having an exchange with curriculum experts and teachers.
“It’s changing the way people talk about California Indians,” said Dr. Borunda, “infusing California Indian perspectives and curriculum so that all children can benefit from the depth of knowledge and wisdom of California Indians.”
Sacramento State Ed.D. Candidate Susan Olsen was one of the presenters at the San Diego summit, which also included local California Indian experts Michael Connolly Miskwish of the Kumeyaay Nation, Cathleen Chilcote Wallace of the Luiseño/San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians, and author Gary Robinson, who introduced his new historical novel, “Lands of our Ancestors.” Dr. Borunda’s new Research Assistant, Saima Nazir, promoted the San Diego CIC Summit and was successful in getting many educators to the event.
By request, Dr. Borunda and Dr. Coughlin previously presented at the invitation of Adam Jacobs, Student Coordinator of Diversity for Rudolph Steiner College (a Waldorf School). There were over 50 attendees at the April Curriculum Summit representing Waldorf teachers from Arizona, California, and Oregon. “We hope to do more regionalized trainings, given availability of funds, to connect educators with regional California Indian cultural experts,” said Dr. Borunda.
The proposed curriculum framework was prepared by Drs. Borunda and Coughlin from Sacramento State; Gregg Castro, Co-Coordinator of the Curriculum Summit; Michelle Lorimer of California State University, San Bernardino; Crystal Martinez-Alire, Elk Grove USD trustee; and author Beverly Ortiz.
“This collaboration is so important,” said Dr. Coughlin. “K-12 teachers are often eager to teach more accurate and complete information about California Indians but may not know how. Building teacher capacity through dialogue with Native Elders and content experts is a powerful reform strategy.”