“My favorite part of learning about my Native American heritage is my trip because I learn more about me.”

– Lake Hills Elementary fifth grader WinterStar Brown, who is Tsimshian.

During the month of November, students at Lake Hills celebrated Native American Heritage Month in creative ways.  Kindergarten, first and second graders read and discussed Raven, by Gerald McDermott during library time with Julie Patterson.  The story is a trickster tale about how the world received light.  Music teacher, Jennifer Andersen-Markee, shared information with students about the Indian flute so that they could have knowledge of the instrument before they saw it performed at an assembly celebrating Native American heritage. Students in fourth grade will continue their study of the culture, when they create a Native American art project with Art Specialist, Rebekah Albertson.

Susan Fish, literacy facilitator at Lake Hills, worked in collaboration with Mary Wilber, (Okanagan Nation) Native American education coordinator for the Eastside Native American Education Program for Bellevue School District, Lake Washington School District, and Northshore School District, Ana Lewis, family involvement liaison, and Cheyen Schenck, Lake Hills fifth grade teacher to bring this event to fruition.

“We want our students to recognize that the Native American culture has its roots in history and continues to be alive today,” said the fourth grade teaching team, which includes James Aries, Lily Martin and Lena Pothitou-West.

As a round up to the Native American heritage celebration in November, Brown and her family, shared their Tsimshian heritage along with Lucas Wimberly and his family sharing their Yurok/Miwok heritages at an all-school assembly on Nov. 26.  The school composed a video with the families to share their traditions and how they continue to keep their cultures alive. Roger, who is a cousin to Lucas and his family, shared a Makah/Clallam whale song, as he played the drum.

In the week leading up to the assembly, students listened to Native American short stories during morning announcements reading across texts to show the different versions of stories about Raven.

The fourth grade teaching group was “eager for them (students) to learn from our Native American Lake Hills families while thinking about what they know through social studies, reading and writing.”

During the assembly, students experienced the culture in action. Each component added to the history of the heritage and told part of the tribe’s story.

WinterStar’s brother, Isaac Brown, who is a third grader, shared that Native American heritage “means my family.”  Isaac shared that he goes to pow-wows with his family and eats “wonderful fry bread that is made there,” to celebrate their Tsimshian heritage.

Lucas, a second grader at Lake Hills who is Makah/Clallam, enjoys learning about his heritage by watching his mom make baskets.  He also likes “making cool necklaces using huge beads” because he can make them for other people.

WinterStar was most excited to share that, “I want people to know that Native Americans are here and we never left.”

The Bellevue School District acknowledges that we learn, work, live and gather on the Indigenous Land of the Coast Salish peoples, specifically the Duwamish and Snoqualmie Tribes. We thank these caretakers of this land, who have lived and continue to live here, since time immemorial.