Everyday Native Expands to 48 States Across US
400% Increase Among Teachers, Other Educators
April 10, 2020
Walnut Creek, Calif. (April 7, 2020) – Everyday Native, a fast-growing free 4th to 12th grade online teacher’s resource based on the stories of today’s Native American youth, is now used in 48 states in its first 19 months. Teachers, school librarians and counselors are the majority of Everyday Native users, with educator registration up 400% in the last six months.
They, along with parents nationwide – who are “substitute” teachers in this coronavirus era -- are embracing Everyday Native and its mission: to foster respect and understanding for Native realities through reflection on the experiences of Native youth and to gain knowledge of US history told from the Native perspective. The resource also helps create a sense of belonging among Native American students, boosting their academic achievement and helping to address the higher than national average rates of Native youth suicide.
Everyday Native continues to grow due to alliances between Native and Non-Native artists, educators, and organizations. Recently, this ongoing collaboration led to the creation of “Patricia’s Story,” a video featuring 17-year-old Salish Indian youth, Patricia, who shared the joys and hardships of living on the Flathead Reservation in Montana. Last week, Montana’s Office of Public Instruction/Indian Education Unit requested and added a special, shorter version of this video to its new YouTube channel, recognizing its value to students who now learn from kitchen tables and sofas.
“I loved “Patricia’s Story” for my [Native] students because so many relate to what she is saying about holding on to her family’s language and traditions as a vital part of her own identity,” Alina Graves, a 7th grade teacher in Montana said. “Her words are meaningful for non-Native students as well, because they struggle with their own identities and what it means to be proud of who you are.”
Ms. Graves showed “Patricia’s Story” to students in her Creative Expressions class and followed it with accompanying discussion questions. “It sparked an incredible discussion,” Ms. Graves noted. “It’s a really powerful piece and relevant to all students.”
Teacher’s Profile: Using Everyday Native in the Classroom
Alina Graves, the 7th grade Social Studies and Creative Expressions teacher at Ronan Middle School in Montana, is a descendent of the Salish and Pend d’Oreilles tribes and was raised on the Flathead Reservation in Montana. She has a history of advocating, developing and implementing culturally proficient Indian Education For All (IEFA) curriculum for elementary schools and Glacier National Park.
“My goal is increasing student’s empathy and compassion towards one another, including helping them embrace their identities and develop that vital sense of belonging,” Ms. Graves said, “These lessons and photos are great additions to my curriculum.”
Ms. Graves’s students recently used Everyday Native’s ‘Mother Earth’ poetry, photos of the ‘Bear Paw Battlefield’ and discussion questions in the ‘Lands of Conflict and History’ section to bring context and inspiration into their classroom work and journaling.
According to Ms. Graves, “Everyday Native is a valuable Indian Education resource because it makes Native life current, includes the Essential Understandings (Montana’s nation-leading Indian Education requirements), and addresses Native identity and belonging. It helps teachers reach all students by bridging the gap between Native and non-Native cultures.”
Cross-Cultural Collaboration: A Long Friendship
Everyday Native was born out of the collaboration between non-Native documentary photographer, Sue Reynolds, and Victor Charlo, a Salish Indian poet-playwright and venerated member of the Salish Kootenai Tribes. Reynolds and Charlo’s first collaboration included a photo-poetry book, Still Here: Not Living in Tipis, which saw success and recognition from then-U.S. Congressman George Miller and then-California State Senator Mark DeSaulnier. Both Reynolds and Charlo’s works strive towards healing racism and have appeared in national and international outlets. Since August 2018, Everyday Native continues to see user growth and praise for its content that brings Native youth stories to classrooms throughout the US.
Suicide is a pressing issue for Native youth.
The suicide rate for Native youth is 2.5 times the national rate in the U.S. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for Native youth ages 10-24, and the 3rd leading cause of death for Native youth ages 5-14. (1)
A 2019 CDC study found that suicide rates amongst Native girls and women have risen 139% and for Native boys and men have risen 71%, when comparing all ethnicities in the United States. (Table 1 & 2)(2)
Systemic barriers and oppression still contribute to racial bullying and lack of culturally sensitive services and education for Native youth.
In 2018, ProPublica found that Native youth in a Montana school district were pushed into programs with minimal resources, received less emotional support and faced discriminatory discipline practices from staff which contributed to Native youth suicide. (3)
A 2018 CDC study showed that Native youth have less access to mental health treatment and diagnosis compared to Caucasian peers, in part because 70 percent of Native youth in the 18-state sample reside in rural communities where there is already lower availability of services. (4)
The same CDC study found that differences in “alcohol use, interpersonal problems, and access to mental health treatment” in the Native community may be “symptoms of disproportionate exposure to poverty, historical trauma, and other contexts of inequity.” (4)
Everyday Native is creating social change through education by featuring Native youth’s voices and stories.
The first such cross-cultural collaboration between non-Native and Native artists and educators, Everyday Native features photos, stories and video of Native youth. Using primary sources, this culturally responsive content inspires students to reflect on and discuss the experiences of 13 Native youth and families from the Blackfeet, Crow, Lakota, Nez Perce, and Salish tribes, and relate it to their own. Everyday Native is reviewed by Lakota, Salish, Cree and Dakota educators and non-Native teachers from Montana, South Dakota, Idaho, and California.