Brenda Beyal Heather Sundahl

Moving Towards Culturally Responsible Classrooms

The start of the new year is a great chance to hit the reset button. As we move forward, let’s pause to contemplate how we as educators can examine our complicity in perpetuating stereotypes and, in response, activate empathy, knowledge-seeking, and change. As we ask hard questions and are willing to seek out answers, we can move from our old normal to a new normal, one that creates new healthier circuits and behaviors.   Some of our 2020 experiences have given us a reckoning of how Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) have been treated. They have propelled us to…

“What do you want children in Utah to know about your tribe?”

In 2018 we asked Patty Timbimboo-Madsen, cultural specialist for the Northwestern Tribe of the Shoshone Nation: “What would you like children in Utah to know about your tribe?” That seemingly simple query launched our Native American Curriculum Initiative and models our guiding principle to honor the Native voice.  We asked that pivotal question because educators had expressed anxiety about teaching Native art forms due to misunderstandings and lack of guidance to navigate varying cultural ideologies. Teachers want to integrate other cultures in sensitive, accurate ways, and without guidance, many hesitated to incorporate native topics. As a partnership committed to inclusive…

Truth Telling

Image: Navajo Woman Weaving, Navajo Reservation, Arizona 1985. Sue Bennett, Photographer I walked into my living room a while back and saw my nephew’s sons (whom I call grandsons and they call me grandma) using my late mother’s Navajo spindle and batten as swords, chasing and chasing each other around the room. I stopped them both and said, “These were your Grandma Daisy’s weaving tools, and now they are mine to take care of. They are not swords but are tools for weaving rugs.” I brought out several rugs that their great-grandmother had woven and showed them how the tools…

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