Watersmeet Schools to shape lessons through Native American history

Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 5:39 PM EDT
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WATERSMEET TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WLUC) - Watersmeet teachers and school staff teamed up with the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Chippewa Indians Community Monday to learn how to use Native American history to inform and shape their lessons.

A consultant from North Dakota visited the school to teach educators how to do this.

“What happened today is understanding historical trauma and the storyline of what happened to many Native Americans, especially here in Watersmeet,” First Nations Consultant Ricky White said.

It starts with teachers themselves learning more about the experiences of the region’s tribes. White said historical understanding will allow teachers to better recognize the importance of delivering Native content to students.

“Understanding that right here at Watersmeet Township School most students are Native American and likely have a journey and story— we’ve lost so much of our ways of life, our culture and language,” White said.

Tony Basanese, a teacher at Watersmeet Schools, already has plans for his K-12 computer classes.

“I want to incorporate some of the greetings in Ojibwe and also in the classroom I’m going to include some Native phrases and practice some things with the kids,” Basanese said.

Basanese said a major takeaway from Monday was “what’s good for a Native student is good for all students.”

“Our relationship with the LVD Tribe is very good, so I think it’s good to promote this with our students and make them feel welcome. I think it will be good to start here and hopefully grow in other places,” Basanese said.

White said he hopes to see every student better understand native history and culture this school year.

“I think the more we’re able to provide opportunities like this to expand the perspective of good things and good knowledge and awareness of all learners. I think that allows us to be genuinely friendly to everyone,” White said.

The Native American Best Practices Framework can be found here.