Children with high self-esteem are successful in school and in life. Native American children are expected to perform well in two cultures which is not always easy. It is important for parents to help their children develop confidence in both worlds. The following guidelines, along with the Learning Circle activities contained in the Four Winds Curriculum, will help Native American students maintain pride in their tribal traditions. A student raised with traditional Native American values should:
A. Encourage respect for nature, family, self, and all living things and: 1. Listen when elders speak and wait for elders to finish talking before they speak 2. Focus on the body, the spirit and the mind keeping all in balance with the envi- ronment 3. Maintain a positive outlook on all things 4. Think before speaking because words are powerful 5. Protect and preserve nature 6. Recognize the spirit of all living things 7. Be sensitive to the balance and harmony of nature 8. Show an awareness of the way to act with nature 9. Show respect for the beliefs of other
B. Become aware of themselves as a member of a people, a tribe, a clan, and a family and: 1. Decide to help others in the community when there are needs 2. Gather information about family, clan and tribe 3. Take responsibility for continuing the oral tradition 4. Identify ways their own beliefs are alike and different from those of others 5. Show manners and respect by greeting others with a handshake
C. Live their daily lives according to the traditions of their people while behaving as those in a city expect and: 1. Maintain health in balance with the environment 2. Value school as a tool for learning 3. Get along with others at school or work in appropriate ways 4. Ask questions with respect 5. Show correct behaviors in different settings, such as home, school ceremonies, etc. 6. Take responsibility for own learning under the guidance and direction of an elder family member
D. Live in balance with natural elements and: 1. Recognize the importance of water, fire, air, earth and other natural elements respected by the tribe. 2. Learn tribal beliefs about water, fire, air and earth and respect the beliefs of others.
Being a good listener is highly valued. Because Indians have developed listening skills, they have simultaneously developed a keen sense of perception that quickly detects insincer ity. The listening skills are emphasized since Indian culture was traditionally passed on orally. storytelling and oral recitations were important means of recounting tribal history and teach ing lessons.
Problems may arise if Indian students are taught only in non-Indian ways. Their ability to follow the traditional behavior of remaining quiet and actively listening to others may be affected. This value may be at variance with teaching methods that emphasize speak ing over listening and place importance on expressing one's opinion.
Many of the Indian values, attitudes and behaviors described on the prrevious pages can have significant impact on Native Americans as they undertake the process of looking for and acquiring a job. Instructors would do well to review these values for themselves and discuss them with their students.
The Puritan work ethic is foreign to most Indians. In the past, with nature provid ing one's needs, little need existed to work just for the sake of working. Since material accumulation was not important, one worked to meet immediate, concrete needs. Adher ence to a rigid work schedule was traditionally not an Indian practice.
Indians often become frustrated when the work ethic is strongly emphasized. The practice of assigning homework or in-class work just for the sake of work runs contrary to Indian values. It is important that Indians understand the value behind any work assigned, whether in school or on the job.
Experiential learning and living is an integral part of a traditional Native American up bringing. A cultural concept or lesson exemplifying this deals with the topic of :
Indians hold to a contemplative rather than a utilitarian philosophy. Religious aspects are introduced into all areas of one's life. Much emphasis is placed on the mystical aspects of life. Religion is an integral part of each day; it is a way of life. There is no evidence that any Indian group ever imposed its system of religious beliefs on another group, nor were there separate denominations that sought to attract members.
The Indian value placed upon the spiritual is frequently misunderstood by non -Indians. Additional frustration may result when spirituality is avoided in most class dis cussions. This practice ignores an aspect of life considered essential and natural to Indians.
The sweat lodge represents a holistic concept of health. It is a means to spiritual, physical and emotional health. Most Indian tribes traditionally use some type of sweat bath. The Dakota-style Sundance sweat lodge is now used by members of many different tribes. The sweat lodge ceremony can help a person in different ways. It can purify a person's body, provide spiritual strength, and help with emotional problems.
The sweat lodge ceremony is like rebirth. It contains all the elements of life: fire, water, earth and air. A person can talk about problems he/she has, or about other concerns. Those present can provide support, discussion, and prayer. The steam in the lodge is very cleansing. Sweating helps a person get rid of toxins and usually brings a feeling of cleanli ness and relaxation. When a person crawls out of the sweat lodge, it is like being born. That person is new again and feels stronger to go on with life.
Many people with serious problems, like alcoholism, are able to change through the power of the sweat lodge because it helps them feel better physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
For Native Americans there is the middle-of-the-road, the white pathway to the Cherokees, the good red road to the Lakota, the area of balance. It is the center ground, the area of balance that the Indian follows.
It is this middle road or appreciation of others that Indian people try to follow. We will always be in two worlds, bicultural people. We will always walk on that middle road. We will try to sty on that middle road, the center lane, neither too far one way or the other, but having a happy balance to our way of life.
In the Native American way, all things have been created in balance. Just as there
is balance in the natural world, there should be balance within each one of us to feel harmony or a sense of well-being. The four major areas where we need balance in our lives are; mental (intellectual), emotional, physical and spiritual. If a person concentrates on just one area, and neglects, the other areas, she/he may not feel the satisfaction of a balanced life. All humans have the need to learn, be happy, be healthy, and believe in a higher power.
While this manual was developed for teachers working with Native American students, the concepts it contains can be applicable to all students and teachers in adult education learning situation.
Instructors need to seize upon the "Spontaneous Teaching Moments" which can present themselves. With a better understanding of where their students are coming from, instructors can utilize the materials in this resource to enrich their teaching and all of their students' learning.
We encourage instructors to add to this resource particular lessons and concepts which they have found to be effective with Native American students.
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