New Everyday Native Teacher’s Resource: Healing Racism through Education

Ivory Brien is really good at basketball, who is from the Flathead Reservation in Montana. Photo by Sue Reynolds

Published July 3, 2018

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. – Everyday Native is the first collaborative teacher’s resource created by non-Natives and Native Americans to focus on the daily lives of Native youth.  It sparks discussion and understanding among 4th through 12th grade students about the experiences of navigating the two worlds of Native and non-Native life, including racism that contributes to higher than national average rates of suicide among Native youth ages 15-24 years old. Through such topics as biculturalism, family, reclaiming culture, and bullying, Everyday Native aims to fuel a movement of new, more accurate perceptions about and respect between non-Native and Native peoples.

Everyday Native is garnering early praise from teachers in Montana, South Dakota, Idaho, and California for exquisite photography, breathtaking poems and content that offers extended learning opportunities. These educators welcome its positive message and how it dispels stereotypes of Native peoples.

The content – which enriches Language Arts, Native American History, U.S. History, Social Studies, Current Events, Art and more — is reviewed by Lakota and Salish educators to ensure accuracy and cultural sensitivity.

Creating Social Consciousness: Bridging the Gap between Native and non-Native Youth

“Leo wears his hair in the three-braid style that is traditional for Blackfeet boys. His hair and light skin have created problems for him.”  So begins the Everyday Native chapter, “Walking in Two Worlds,” with the story of Leo Kipp who now lives on the Blackfeet Reservation in western Montana. Students learn about Leo’s life helping on his grandparents’ ranch, learning his indigenous language at an immersion school, and dealing with the painful circumstances of racial bullying, whether it’s being teased for his braids or being targeted for his light skin. Each chapter of Everyday Native includes discussion and writing sections that follow Native youths’ stories, tribal histories, and culture.  Sections ask students to think about highlighted youths’ experiences and also relate them to their own.  Project ideas take learning beyond classrooms and into communities.

Joe Parizeau Getting Ready with Grandmother Rose Montana. Photo by Sue Reynolds

Everyday Native was created by founder-photographer Sue Reynolds with educator Cass Fey, former education director for The Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, Tucson. Both are non-Native.  Beautiful, eye-opening poems by Salish Indian poet Victor Charlo appear throughout the resource, providing insights into this renowned storyteller’s everyday life on and off the reservation.   Reynolds stays in touch with many Native families seen in the resource so that updates help keep website content accurate and relevant.

Everyday Native launches in late July. Once it goes live, teachers, students, parents, and the public can go to to register for a free account, and before launch they can sign up for launch notification.

Social Documentary Network Exhibit: Introducing New Photos and Narratives

To see expanded photos and stories about Native youth and their communities featured in Everyday Native, a photo exhibit curated by founder Sue Reynolds is on view now at Social Documentary Network.  Featured are never seen-before photos and new stories about Native youth on the Nez Perce, Flathead, Blackfeet and Standing Rock Reservations.

Cross-Cultural Collaboration: A Long Friendship

Everyday Native was born out of the long friendship between an urban white photographer, Sue Reynolds and a Salish Indian poet and venerated member of the Salish Kootenai Tribes, Victor Charlo. Reynolds’ and Charlo’s first collaboration included a photo-poetry book, Still Here: Not Living in Tipis (2013), which saw success and also recognition from then U.S. Congressman George Miller and California State Senator Mark DeSaulnier. Both Reynolds’ and Charlo’s works help heal racism and have appeared in national and international outlets.

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  1. Teresa Oliver 8 months ago
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