MENDOCINO CO., 2/24/17 — Three Round Valley teachers received grants of $1,000 supporting their efforts to bring American Indian arts, traditional games, development trainings, and presentations by elders to the students at Round Valley schools this spring for the first ever Dreamstarter teacher awards from a national American Indian non-profit. Teachers Cheryl Tuttle, Shannon Britton, and Joe Dukepoo were each selected for their individual projects to support American Indian students as part of a group of 24 teachers across the country.
The Dreamstarter grants are a program of Running Strong, a national organization founded by Olympic runner Billy Mills to give back to American Indian communities. The program provides funds to assist American Indian communities in meeting their immediate needs, while also supporting programs that “provide opportunities for self-sufficiency and self-esteem.” Blaze Burrows, a Round Valley student in the school’s Wailaki language classes, received a $10,000 Dreamstarter award last year, in the second class of Running Strong Dreamstarter student grants, for his efforts to teach local boys Kyin-naal-del’, a traditional stick game.
The three projects each have a different focus and purpose, and students from the elementary school to the high school will have a chance to participate. Shannon Britton’s project will support three local artists in teaching beading, stick carving for traditional stick games, and weaving traditional rattles and baskets. Joe Dukepoo will use techniques similar to those employed in addressing historical trauma to offer development training at Round Valley Elementary Middle School, “to provide a well-rounded understanding of overcoming our historical trauma to improve future outcomes of our students.” Cheryl Tuttle’s project will bring ten elders into the classroom to share knowledge with the students, and the funds will allow her to offer the speakers an honorarium.
Round Valley schools are also currently offering Wailaki and Yuki language classes as part of a new program to revive two local languages that were previously considered “dead” but were spoken in this region. The classes have taught a new generation of students to speak these two languages, and are being developed in coordination with language research at universities around the state.
We’ve listed the full project descriptions below from the Dreamstarter awards page:
Shannon Britton’s Project: I will bring in local tribal artists to work on 3 separate projects into my classroom. The first project is to bring a local beader to teach my students how to do applique beading and loom beading. Next, I will bring in high school Kyin-naal-del’ Club members to teach my students how to carve sticks to either play “Shinny” or the traditional Wailaki stick game. I will also bring in a local weaver to teach my students how to weave either traditional Wailaki rattles and/or Yuki miniature baby baskets.
Joe Dukepoo’s Project: I will use the teacher grant to provide development training to the middle school students at Round Valley Elementary Middle School. These development trainings are designed to provide a well-rounded understanding of overcoming our historical trauma to improve future outcomes of our students, similar to a mini-Gathering of Native American (GONA) training.
Cheryl Tuttle’s Project: I will select up to 10 local Native elders, identify a subject they would be comfortable talking about with students and invite them to come into individual classrooms and share their knowledge with our students. Each elder will receive a small honorarium for sharing their knowledge.