Future teachers weave tribal perspectives into their practice

August 15, 2019

More than 120 future teachers shared their work building lessons that contain tribal-specific content, land-based pedagogy and engagement with Native communities during an August 13 showcase at the University of Washington College of Education. 

The event, a culmination of the “Understanding Tribal Perspectives” course that all UW elementary and secondary teacher candidates take, highlighted how the future educators have prepared to use the “Since Time Immemorial: Tribal Sovereignty In Washington State” curriculum and other tribal materials relevant to the grade level and subject matter that they’ll be teaching. 

As part of the course, teacher candidates visited local tribal museums and communities where cultural pedagogy, traditions, history and other teaching tools are demonstrated across content areas.

Secondary teacher candidates Sarah Rassool and Joanna Zeer, for example, prepared a unit exploring how the Tulalip tribe had grown economically as a result of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. 

“Throughout my own education I never really learned about Native peoples or the tribes within Washington state,” Zeer said. “This was a great way to implement land-based pedagogy where we were able to connect different activities for students to recognize Native traditions such as storytelling, and then also to connect it back to history.”

Audio Reflections: Understanding Tribal Perspectives

Listen to UW teacher candidates discuss the lessons and activities they created in the playlist below.

Elementary teacher candidate Julianne Ha developed a unit on the sovereign shellfish rights of the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe, the importance of those rights to the community and the impact of pollution on shellfish that the tribe depends upon. 

“A project like this has been so impactful for me because I get a sense of how much I can teach my students and how much I’m learning myself,” Ha said. 

Understanding Tribal Perspectives Showcase

During the event at wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ (Intellectual House), teacher candidates interacted with guests from tribal communities in Washington state about their work and heard remarks from keynote speaker Damen Bell-Holter (Haida) about his experience growing up in a small community in Southeast Alaska.


Dustin Wunderlich, Director of Marketing and Communications
206-543-1035, dwunder@uw.edu