Native American educators in the Federal Way Public Schools district are contiually participating along with scholars in events and clubs to ensure that Native culture and wisdom is alive and expanding, according to the district.
The Native American Coalition Club (NACC) at Thomas Jefferson High School (TJHS) helps Indigenous educators connect with each other, scholars and the community.
“For me, [the Club] has allowed me to practice my livelihood as an art teacher and an Indigenous person and I’ve really been able to have those two things flourish in my day-to-day life,” said Ellyn Carlson (Okanogan) Career and Technology Education Teacher at Thomas Jefferson High School.
The NACC is advised by Ms. Carlson and Brandon Draheim, social studies teacher at TJHS. The NACC teaches about Indigenous food sources and plants, in conjunction with the Green Club. NACC also teaches drumming and the ceremonies they are used for, and crafts such as beadwork, drum-making and more.
Carlson said she and Assistant Principal Dennis Eller (of the Cherokee Nation) knew that “there was a need for a community for Indigenous learners and an educational space for being educated on contemporary and past issues.”
The club is also hoping to pursue more opportunities for guest speakers to share about customs of their tribe, as well as their crafts.
“It is crucial to have clubs such as NACC because even in this day and age, and with our diverse district, there are still a lot of gaps and misconceptions about Indigenous history and current events. We’re still here, we’re part of every workforce and school,” Carlson said. “Our input is valuable. Having a club such as NACC allows not just Indigenous students to have a space, but for supporters/allies to be able to join as well. We welcome everyone. This isn’t excluding anyone, however it is important that we have a space for us to learn our ways and traditions.”
“This is the space where many are able to pick up resources for developing confidence and knowledge for that as well,” she added.
Native American Heritage Month concluded in November, however FWPS plans to continue to elevate the voices of scholars and celebrate all cultures throughout the school year.
For more information on how to get connected with the district’s Native Education Program, please contact Amanda Rambayon at firstname.lastname@example.org or 253-797-0843.