Monday Monday Monday
Today marked our first full day on the reservation. Tracy let me and Anica sleep in til noon, because every other day we will have to be up super early. After cooking breakfast in the life skills classroom, the three of us sat down to plan our workshop. We discussed our goals for the first day, our intended activities, and possible difficulties we could encounter. I will discuss the curriculum and its success rates in the next post.
After establishing our curriculum, Tracy took us over to the nearby teacher housing (yes, it’s like professor housing at LFC) just up the hill from Porcupine School. We met with Lisa and Shanda, the two main 7th and 8th grade teachers. They estimated our class numbers, speculated about which students would attend, and told us about a series of field trips planned for the students during this workshop. In the past, the students never went on field trips during class time; this new development cuts into our teaching time immensely. Tracy reassured me and Anica that teaching on the rez requires patience and flexibility. We will be mapping and remapping our curriculum over and over again during the next two weeks, I’m sure.
While at Lisa’s, we also got to meet Shanda’s children, three young boys. It is interesting to note here that it is *very* difficult to tell apart Native American little boys and little girls without cues from clothing color, since they all grow out their fine black hair and keep it in long braids.
After we left Lisa’s, we trekked over to the nearby powwow grounds. Anica and I didn’t think to grab a camera, so we will have to go back and take some pictures. The coolest part about visiting the powwow grounds, though, was seeing prairie dogs. As we approached, a storm was coming. Signaling the others, one prairie dog stood on top of his mound [a large hole in the ground] and barked in a high-pitched voice. The others echoed him, warning of the storm to come. They were so common as to be like squirrels!
We headed back to the school, taking the advice of the prairie dogs about going indoors. Anica cooked us dinner – fried rice – and it was *so* good. Afterwards, we headed out to Sharp’s Corner, the nearest gas station / grocery store to pick up some ice cream. Spur of the moment, we decided to get ice cream bars to go, and drive out to the Badlands to watch the sunset. Tracy drove us for about another 20 minutes, then exited on a small dirt road indicating Sheep Mountain. We drove straight up into the hills, then parked the car. Anica and I followed Tracy through knee-deep tall grasses out onto a cliff:
Honestly, the whole experience felt like breathing for the first time.
After we got back, we read through a series of morality stories which we intend to use for a teaching tool during the workshop. The stories are based on a classic Lakota character named Iktomi. Iktomi is a mischief-maker and a shape-changer. His general story arc is: Iktomi sees something naughty to do; he gets an idea; he carries out his plan; the plan backfires somehow; Iktomi pays the consequences. The stories we read were: Iktomi and the Squirrels, Iktomi and the Fawn, Iktomi and the Ducks, Iktomi and the Coyote, and probably several others that I’ve forgotten. We ended up choosing Iktomi and the Fawn, which I will post with the curriculum. :]