The American Indian College Fund, Northwest Indian College, and the Lummi Community partners and families will engage in collaboration to strengthen the central role families play in early learning opportunities. We will learn not only how to engage and sustain authentic partnerships with families, but also what the innovative activities are which heighten families’ opportunities to meaningfully shape their child’s/children’s early learning outcomes, in preparation for school readiness and success in life.
- Written by Heather Jefferson
The Menominee people were the gracious hosts of the Sacred Little Ones Annual Convening, which took place in June 2014. When we arrived, we were greeted by Dr. Tarajean Yazzie-Mintz, Sacred Little Ones Program Officer at the American Indian College Fund. It was nice to see the peoples of the land history recorded on a special channel in our hotel room. The next morning, a few took advantage of a morning walk and we were able to get acquainted with one another.
- Written by Shelley Macy and Nahrin Aziz Parsons
On Friday, June 20, 2014, Northwest Indian College celebrated its commencement at the beautiful Wexliem Community Building. The Class of 2014 consisted of 115 students earning either their two-year or four-year degrees, or their General Education Diploma.
Dr. Dakotah Lane, a Lummi tribal member, was our keynote speaker. He shared his story about graduating from the University of Washington, joining the Peace Corps, and attending medical school at Weill-Cornell Medical College. Dr. Lane also shared with our graduates his plans to return to his reservation to work as a physician at the Indian Health Services clinic, upon completion of his residency.
- Written by Alicia Allard, Early Learning Center Director, Northwest Indian College
Northwest Indian College has a strong history of educating and supporting the next generation of early childhood professionals. Our early childhood program reflects the mission of Northwest Indian College to promote indigenous self-determination and knowledge by preparing students to carry on the tradition of providing quality early childhood education for tribal programs.
Ashia Smock, founding co-director for the Sacred Little Ones Project at NWIC has accepted a position at Lummi Behavioral Health, where she will have the opportunity to work directly with children and teachers at the Lummi Early Learning Programs as a Social Worker. Ashia interned at Behavioral Health for six months as she completed her MSW from the University of Washington, and they just couldn’t let her go. Though we will miss her in the day-to-day operations of the Sacred Little Ones project and at the ELC, we are excited for her and for this opportunity to work more closely with Behavioral Health within Head Start. Ashia is also finishing up her training to become a certified Hand In Hand “Parenting by Connection” instructor. She will continue to work with the Sacred Little Ones goals of helping families and teachers handle children’s emotional moments and improving children’s social and emotional skills and development.
On June 7, Lummi elders and community leaders, along with the Northwest Indian College Early Childhood Wakanyeja Sacred Little Ones (WSLO) program, welcomed WSLO teams from the College of the Menominee Nation (CMN-Wisconsin), Ilisagvik College (IC-Alaska), and Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI-New Mexico) to the annual WSLO convening at the Silver Reef Casino.
All four colleges receive support funds from the American Indian College Fund’s “Wakanyeja ‘Sacred Little Ones’ –Tribal College Readiness and Success by Third Grade Initiative.” The Wakanyeja project is generously funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The purpose of the project is to create innovative, tribally-based activities and solutions that improve early childhood education and empower families and communities to create better education for their children.
Nestled between the Lummi Bay and Bellingham Bay in Northwest Washington State, four tribal college early childhood education programs brought their knowledge together among the thicket of tradition and scenery on the Lummi Indian reservation. The Wakanyeja Early Childhood Education Initiative tribal college grantees of Northwest Indian College, College of Menominee Nation, Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI) and Ilisagvik College gathered last week for their annual Sacred Little Ones convening on the Lummi reservation.
Alisha Sellars, Shuswap/Secwepemc from British Columbia, is 21 years old, a mother of a 2-year-old son, works full time, and is a full-time Northwest Indian College (NWIC) student working toward becoming an elementary or early-education teacher.
“I’m hoping to teach in Native communities because, growing up, I only saw one Native teacher,” Sellars said. “I think it’s important for Native teachers to teach Native children because they share a sense of culture and have an extra connection to the kids and I think that extra connection helps the kids.”
Four tribal colleges who are grantees in the Kellogg Wakanyeja “Sacred Little Ones” Early Childhood Education Initiative met last week in Boulder, Colorado.
The teams came from across North America, including Ilisagvik College, Barrow, Alaska; College of Menominee Nation (CMN), Keshena, Wisconsin, Northwest Indian College (NWIC), Bellingham, Washington; and Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI), Albuquerque, New, Mexico. Team members shared and reflected on the first year of accomplishments establishing early childhood initiatives. In addition, the meeting provided new opportunities for team learning and inquiry. This year’s theme focused the teams on ways to share project stories, drawing upon a systematic collection of information to demonstrate impact.
Northwest Indian College’s Early Childhood Education Program was selected as a recipient of the Wakanyeja “Sacred Little Ones” grant funded through the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and distributed by the American Indian College Fund. $800,000 has been awarded over a period of four years in order to make improvements to the ECE degree program at NWIC and at the NWIC Early Learning Center, Lummi Head Start, Lummi Nation School K-3rd grade and Ferndale Eagleridge Elementary, K-3rd grade. We are honored to receive and be a part of this project.
The Wakanyeja “Sacred Little Ones” early childhood education initiative is for and by the Lummi Community’s children and families. Four cohorts will be formed—children at the participating schools, their parents, and their teachers as well as Lummi campus students in the ECE degree program.