8/13/2013 10:28:00 AM New program to cultivate agricultural knowledge at Hopi elementary school First Mesa Elementary School to incorporate Hopi agriculturally based curriculum this school year
Teachers at First Mesa Elementary School take a first look at a new Hopi agriculturally based curriculum the school will use for the first time this year. Submitted photo
The group that developed a new Hopi agriculturally based curriculum celebrates after the presenting the curriculum to teachers at First Mesa Elementary School. From left: Natwani Coalition Program Associate Kyle Knox, Advisory Board Member Leonard Talaswaima, Hopi Foundation Executive Director Monica Nuvamsa, Educational Consultant Jeremy Garcia, Natwai Coalition Program Manager Samantha Antone, Advisory Borad Memebers Ruth Ami, Janalda Nash and Gene Kuwanquastewa. Submitted photo
FIRST MESA, Hopi - First Mesa Elementary School teachers will teach a new agricultural curriculum based on Hopi food and farming knowledge and practices this year.
The Natwani Coalition, a project of The Hopi Foundation and First Mesa Elementary School, developed the Hopi Natwani for Youth Project (HNYP) curriculum. Natwani Coalition, Community Advisory Board Members and Hopi Foundation Executive Director Monica Nuvamsa presented 15 curriculum books to the staff and faculty of First Mesa Elementary School July 29.
Hopi village members, community cultural advisors, educators, Hopi Foundation and Natwani Coalition staff all helped develop the youth program curriculum. The various cultural advisors and partners helped shape the curriculum concepts and content of each lesson. The curriculum is grounded in Hopi values and knowledge systems.
According to HNYP officials, the curriculum is not simply about transferring knowledge on "how to farm" to the younger generation-it is a living process that contributes to a quality of life (physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental wellness). The curriculum involves an understanding of the origins of Hopi existence and how Hopis are held accountable to the past, present and future through the very process of farming.
The partnership between Natwani Coalition and First Mesa Elementary School will be important during the pilot year for HNYP. This will allow Natwani Coalition to learn from the teachers and staff about what works, what needs improvement and what support staff may need to implement the lessons. The partnership will also help strengthen the content and curriculum so the lessons are stronger when it comes time to implement the curriculum in all Hopi schools and community programs.
The Hopi Natwani for Youth Project curriculum is seven years in the making but has finally made its way into the hands of a scholastic institution for Hopi youth. The program is structured around the 12 Hopi lunar cycles that Hopi observe and includes four lessons for every cycle.
Jeremy Garcia, an educational consultant who helped create the conceptual framework for the program and a Hopi, said teaching the curriculum at First Mesa Elementary School is a landmark moment.
"Not only on Hopi, but for indigenous education as this is a curriculum born from the community for the community, by Hopi, for Hopi," Garcia said. "This opportunity to shape a curriculum from the perspective of a non-western community doesn't happen often but the Natwani Coalition has done just that. HNYP doesn't represent a curriculum developed off Hopi with non-Hopi ideologies, values, and knowledge but is in fact the opposite. HNYP appropriately represents Hopi ideologies, philosophies, values, and cultural knowledge that will help the Hopi youth participate more in traditional Hopi agriculture. Interesting enough in the eyes of First Mesa Elementary School HNYP will help fulfill some of their culture, language, and science programming. "
The Hopi Foundation, the Christensen Fund, and the Arizona Humanities Council all helped the program with financial support.
"A heartfelt thank you to each and every individual who had a part in the development of the curriculum, your dedication to strengthen Hopi farming in our youth is deeply appreciated," Garcia said.
More information is available at www.hopifoundation.org or (928) 734-2380.