LINKS
2018-02-08 / Headlines

Building Schools Without Walls

NATALIE HAND
LCT CORRESPONDENT


Students Trinity White Plume-Camp, Maisena White Plume and Mato White Plume expressing their creativity to create miniature tipis at “Ama’s Freedom School”. Photo credit: N.Hand/LMP Students Trinity White Plume-Camp, Maisena White Plume and Mato White Plume expressing their creativity to create miniature tipis at “Ama’s Freedom School”. Photo credit: N.Hand/LMP MANDERSON --Owe Aku (Bring Back the Way) spent one year in dialogue with certified elementary teachers, elders, parents, and youth to discuss educational needs of the children, and how to best meet those needs. The topic was centered around answering the question “What can the children learn here that they will not learn in school that will help solidify a Lakota identity, skills, thought, philosophy and life ways on a practical level?”.

The answer was to design a learning environment that is a school without walls, that focuses on ancestral Lakota life ways for children aged 7 through 14, who can learn as a group with their parents, according to Owe Aku’s director Debra White Plume.


Participants of last summer’s “Ama’s Freedom School”, led by founder and Owe Aku Director Debra White Plume. Participants of last summer’s “Ama’s Freedom School”, led by founder and Owe Aku Director Debra White Plume. From there, the classes and workshops were developed, and the school was launched during Summer Equinox along the banks of Wounded Knee Creek. The first class was on understanding the tipi, life inside of it, and how it is made. White Plume, an Oglala Lakota citizen from the Pine Ridge Homeland, instructed the girls and their mothers on how to paint and construct a miniature Lakota style tipi. Class participants painted a life size tipi and the lodge was put up by elder Alex White Plume and some grandsons, to demonstrate the correct methods.

Whatever topic the class covers, the students are engaged in a discussion with Olowan Martinez, who guides the dialogue to explore “critical thinking”.

“This aspect of the school is designed to enhance the student’s ability to examine and question what they are learning and why they are learning about it. Parents felt the existing school system often “dumbs” kids down and want their children to be free thinkers,” stated Martinez.

Classes to provide learning experiences about methods of ancient food preparation and storage have been held, including how to cut and dry buffalo meat, how to gather, grind and prepare choke cherries for the Lakota recipe “wasna”, identification, preparation and uses for traditional Lakota plants for medicine and food have been held as well.

“We have classes on archery and target shooting, physical fitness, Lakota star stories, and we held a Winter Solstice Gathering to teach about the Star Nation and our relationship as Lakota Oyate,” stated White Plume.

Upcoming classes include doll making, sewing baby blankets, (both are about parenting as well), and a follow up to the Art in Healing Trauma experience held this past November.

Owe Aku is working on a publication to share the outcomes of the Art in Healing session, according to White Plume.

The reservation-based, native-led non-profit organization has several more classes and workshops planned that focus on children and their families. White Plume believes that building a future generation who is solidly Lakota, has done a lot of work to decolonize, and who will have experience in critical thinking is essential to preserving the Lakota way of life. This approach models the methods in which ancestors were trained by their parents and grandparents, aunties and uncles.

To learn more about Owe Aku, visit their website at www.oweakuinternational.org

Return to top

Lakota Country Times
Powered by Como

New E-Edition

Click here for E-Edition
2018-02-08 digital edition

Oglala Lakota Nation Newsletter

Click below to read the newsletter

LCT Classifieds

Click below to view our classifieds!
Lakota Country Times, Newspapers, Martin, SD