Decolonizing Education with White Mountain Apaches

by Highland Support Project
Decolonizing Education with White Mountain Apaches
Decolonizing Education with White Mountain Apaches
Decolonizing Education with White Mountain Apaches
Decolonizing Education with White Mountain Apaches
Decolonizing Education with White Mountain Apaches
Decolonizing Education with White Mountain Apaches
Decolonizing Education with White Mountain Apaches
Decolonizing Education with White Mountain Apaches
Decolonizing Education with White Mountain Apaches
Decolonizing Education with White Mountain Apaches
Decolonizing Education with White Mountain Apaches
Decolonizing Education with White Mountain Apaches
Decolonizing Education with White Mountain Apaches
Decolonizing Education with White Mountain Apaches
Decolonizing Education with White Mountain Apaches
Decolonizing Education with White Mountain Apaches
Decolonizing Education with White Mountain Apaches
Decolonizing Education with White Mountain Apaches

Project Report | Jun 4, 2024
Open High School: Engaging in Kincentric Education

By Ben Blevins | Project Leader

Spring Student Exchange
Spring Student Exchange

In April, students from Open High School in Richmond, Virginia, embarked on a transformative journey to the White Mountain Apache Tribe to participate in the "Decolonizing Education with White Mountain Apaches" program. The focus of this trip was to immerse students in kincentric education and ethnoscience through a partnership with educators and community members from the White Mountain Healing Coalition, Ndée Bikíyaa (The People’s Farm), The Young Apache Farmers Cooperative, and the Dishchiibikoh Community School. This week-long engagement provided a profound learning experience about the legacies of settler colonialism and the significance of community in education.

Kincentric Education: A Thread Uniting Our Work

At the heart of this trip was kincentric education. This holistic approach emphasizes the interconnectedness of all living things, recognizing the deep bonds between humans, animals, plants, and the earth. Unlike conventional education systems, which prioritize individual achievement and compartmentalized knowledge, kincentric education fosters relational thinking and community-oriented learning. It underscores that well-being is tied to healthy relationships within the ecosystem, where respect, responsibility, and reciprocity are foundational principles.

Learning About the Legacy of Boarding Schools and Settler Colonialism

Throughout the trip, students had the opportunity to engage in candid dialogues with Apache elders, gaining valuable insights into the history and impact of settler colonialism, particularly the traumatic legacy of boarding schools. These elders shared personal stories and community histories that illuminated the resilience and strength of the Apache people in the face of cultural erasure. Understanding this history was crucial for students to appreciate the ongoing efforts toward healing and reclaiming indigenous knowledge systems.

Hands-on Learning: Assisting with Farming and Horticultural Projects

A significant component of the program involved hands-on learning experiences in kincentric education. Students assisted with tribal organic farming at Ndée Bikíyaa (The People’s Farm) and participated in horticultural education projects alongside tribal youth at The Young Apache Farmers Cooperative. These activities allowed students to practice ethnoscience—applying traditional ecological knowledge to sustainable farming and environmental stewardship. Working with the land, students learned about indigenous crops, planting techniques, and the significance of food sovereignty for the Apache community.

Community and Collaboration: Building Bridges Across Cultures

The trip also emphasized the importance of community and collaboration. Students participated in cultural exchanges, learning about Apache stories, traditions, and foodways, deepening their understanding of Apache culture and values. These experiences fostered mutual respect and appreciation, highlighting the strength of diverse communities coming together to share knowledge and support one another.

Realizing a Dream: A New Chapter in Deep Ecology Education

This trip marked the realization of a dream to bring East Coast inner-city students from our Deep Ecology Education Program into partnership with students and community members dedicated to decolonizing education. It was an impactful first leg of what we hope will be an ongoing exchange. We aim to facilitate a reciprocal visit next spring, where Apache students from the White Mountains can visit Virginia and participate in river restoration and organic farming projects at Open High School. This knowledge exchange and experience will continue to enrich and broaden the perspectives of all students involved.

Fostering Kincentric Thinking and Decolonizing Education

These exchanges are more than educational trips; they are vital to fostering kincentric thinking and decolonizing education. By learning from and working with Indigenous communities, students develop a deeper respect for different ways of knowing and being in the world. This holistic approach helps dismantle Eurocentric educational models, replacing them with inclusive practices that honor and integrate Indigenous knowledge systems.

Through these immersive experiences, students witness the power of community-driven education, where learning is intertwined with cultural practices and ecological stewardship. Such exchanges broaden academic horizons and cultivate empathy, resilience, and a profound sense of interconnectedness, essential qualities for addressing the complexities of our shared future.

School Garden Tea in Cibecue
School Garden Tea in Cibecue
Student visiting Oak Flat Vigil
Student visiting Oak Flat Vigil
Learning about Boarding Schools
Learning about Boarding Schools
Plating at the People's Farm
Plating at the People's Farm
Storytelling Night
Storytelling Night
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Jan 26, 2024
Fostering Native Food Education

By Caroline Perez | Outreach Assistant

Oct 13, 2023
Teams Serve in AZ, Awards for Co-op and Education

By Muna Hijazi | HSP Program Coordinator

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Organization Information

Highland Support Project

Location: Richmond, VA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @HighlandPartnrs
Project Leader:
BENJAMIN EDWARD BLEVINS
Richmond , VA United States

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