Watersmeet Schools to Shape Lessons Through Native American History

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TOWNSHIP OF WATERSMEET, Mich. (WLUC) – Teachers and staff at Watersmeet School teamed up Monday with the Lake Chippewa Indian Community Old Desert Band to learn how to use Native American history to inform and shape their lessons.

A consultant from North Dakota traveled to the school to teach educators how to do this.

“What happened today is understanding the historical trauma and the story of what happened to many Native Americans, especially here in Watersmeet,” said First Nations consultant Ricky White.

It starts with the teachers themselves learning more about the experiences of the tribes in the area. White said historical understanding will allow teachers to better recognize the importance of providing Indigenous content to students.

“Understanding that here at Watersmeet Township School most of the students are Native American and probably have a background and a history – we’ve lost so much of our ways of life, our culture and our language,” White said.

Watersmeet Schools teacher Tony Basanese already has plans for his K-12 computer science classes.

“I want to incorporate some of the Ojibwe greetings and also in the classroom, I’m going to include native phrases and practice some things with the kids,” Basanese said.

Basanese said a key takeaway from Monday was “what’s good for one Indigenous student is good for all students.”

“Our relationship with the LBD tribe is very good, so I think it’s good to promote that to our students and make them feel welcome. I think it will be good to start here and hopefully to grow up somewhere else,” Basanese said.

White said he hopes to see every student better understand Indigenous history and culture this school year.

“I think the more we are able to provide opportunities like this to broaden the perspective of good things and good knowledge and awareness for all learners. I think that allows us to be really friendly with everyone,” White said.

The Native American Best Practices Framework can be found here.

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