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Updates from the OIEJB: Indigenous People Heritage Month and Student Diversity Leadership Conference

Updates from the OIEJB: Indigenous People Heritage Month and Student Diversity Leadership Conference

Native American Heritage Month

History of NAHM and Local Tribes
While calls for recognition of native people’s contribution to America date back to 1915, not until 1990 did George H.W. Bush approve a joint resolution to proclaim November as “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations, under variants on the name (including “Native American Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month”) have been issued each year since 1994.

At Sandy Spring Friends School, it is impossible to celebrate Native American Heritage Month without recognizing that the school is located on unceded land that once belonged to the Piscataway tribe. This year, in tribute to that history, the Office of Institutional Equity, Justice, and Belonging offers these facts about the Piscataway tribe, from the Article “Piscataway-Conoy: Rejuvenating Ancestral Ties to Southern Parks”:

Did you know…

  • The first known inhabitants of Maryland were Paleo-Indians who had migrated here from other parts of the continent, following bison, caribou, and mammoths.
  • By the first millennium B.C.E., Maryland was home to 40 tribes. The Piscataway was the largest and most powerful tribal nation in the lands between the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River.
  • By 1800, colonization had reduced tribal numbers and retracted Piscataway rights. The largest contingent of the tribe, known as the Conoy, migrated to Pennsylvania.
  • Piscataway people were absorbed into other categories of identity, including “mulatto” and “negro” as the result of a census system that had no category for Native Americans.
  • During the 1970s, following the Civil Rights Era, the Pan-Indian movement inspired Native American groups to fight for recognition.
  • Members of the Piscataway-Conoy Federation and Piscataway Indian Nation spent years reassembling records and other information; in 2012 representatives and leaders of the tribe were officially recognized via an executive order by then-governor Martin O’Malley.
  • Today, the Piscataway number in the thousands; the restoration of their culture is a point of pride for tribal members who were marginalized and forgotten in their ancestral home.

On-Campus Celebrations
Lower School teachers will engage their students with a lesson plan developed by 2nd-Grade teacher Philip Mallari that plays to a variety of developmental levels, leading the lesson themselves or watching a recorded presentation. 4th and 5th graders will have the opportunity to learn about the concepts of stereotypes and cultural appropriation, and PK will center around a storybook. The lobby bulletin board will be decorated as in other history and heritage months, and teachers will be able to choose from a list of books to share with their students.

In Middle School, a bulletin board highlighting the accomplishments of indigenous women will be featured in the lobby. A book list by native authors will be available for students to check out, and coordinator Terrell Davis will share the list with teachers to allow them to bring some of the books into their classes. Resources will be shared with teachers about activities they can do in class to celebrate the month; information about activities happening off campus that people can engage in will also be shared, along with some background of the month during an Advisory lesson.

Upper School students will engage with a slide deck in Advisory that is grounded in the Turtle Island creation myth and offers three different learning paths. Another Advisory activity will build on the first, offering either deepening in one of the learning paths, or the opportunity to engage in jewelry making after learning about the significance of different colors to Native tribes. A display in the Atrium will feature profiles of contemporary Native American activists. QR codes on flyers around the building will offer education about, among other things, the origins of Lacrosse and the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Baltimore Student Diversity Leadership Conference

On Saturday, November 11, Sandy Spring will host the Baltimore Student Diversity Leadership Conference, a high school diversity and equity leadership training event that is planned by and led by area high school students. The student planning team of 70 students from 15 AIMS schools have chosen a conference theme of "You won’t break my soul: Speaking truth to power." Five Sandy Spring students have been part of the planning committee and will be offering workshops, and five more will join the event as attendees.

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