Teaching and caring for the tribe’s youngest children is of tremendous importance to the Lummi Nation. Lummi people care deeply for their children and want them to thrive within their families, schools, and community. The Sacred Little Ones Project speaks to these desires as we work toward our Seven Project Goals:
- Improve cognitive skills acquisition specifically language development and literacy in both Lummi and English.
- Improve social competence and emotional health for young children.
- Increase teacher and parent skills at handling children’s emotional moments.
- Improve early childhood teacher quality in the Lummi community through education and peer support.
- Bridge early childhood with K-3 education from Early Learning Center (ELC) to Lummi Head Start to Lummi Nation School and Eagleridge.
- Integrate Lummi language and culture into curriculum development and instruction at ECE teacher preparation, birth-to-three, Head Start, and K-3 levels.
- Empower families and communities to act as agents of change in their children’s education.
- NWIC Early Childhood Education Associate’s Degree Program
- NWIC Early Learning Center, (infant, toddler, and preschool programs)
- Lummi Early Learning Programs: Head Start (preschool program)
- Lummi Nation School (K-3rd Grade)
- Eagleridge Elementary, Ferndale School District, (K-3rd Grade)
- Enhanced programing within the NWIC Early Learning Center
- Support of families and teachers as they meet children’s social and emotional needs
- Offering high quality early childhood education coursework and an Associate’s degree in ECE
- Creating systems of peer support through Teaching by Connection support groups
- Bridging early learning with K-3 via Professional Learning Communities
- Integrating Lummi language and culture into early learning classrooms through grade three, and
- Listening to and supporting families as they advocate for their children’s educational excellence.
The American Indian College Fund, through the Wakanyeja "Sacred Little Ones" - Tribal College Readiness and Success by Third Grade, is working to bring together tribal colleges, communities, educators, and families to address early learning disparities in Native communities.
In 2011, four tribal colleges were selected through a competitive process to participate in the Wakanyeja ECE Initiative and received up to $935,000 over four years to develop and strengthen early childhood education programs at tribal colleges. The Wakanyeja ECE Initiative grantees are: Ilisagvik College (Barrow, AK), College of Menominee Nation (Keshena, WI), Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (Albuquerque, NM), and Northwest Indian College (Bellingham, WA).