The Focus of Our Efforts
kʷu cnxiʔ is still in its infancy. The basic functions of our nonprofit will be run by the Executive Director, Executive Program Manager, and Curriculum Specialist. These three positions will work to coordinate a council of First Language Speakers and Knowledge Keepers and contract behavior health subject matter experts. In addition, we will build partnerships with local tribal schools and programs to create a pipeline of curriculums, resources, and educational guidance to reach our children.
Utilizing the wisdom of our First Language Speakers and Cultural Knowledge Keepers, we will develop curriculums, resources, learning materials, and guidance documents. The curriculum will be heavily focused on land based education and seasonal cycles.
Example of materials development: A unit on trees. This unit will have information such as: Legends that describe the traditional ecological knowledge of trees (There is a story that trees had a race up a mountain and some trees fell or had accidents at certain elevations and that explains why they are found low, mid level, or high). Children will understand that trees grow in different habitats and have different needs. This unit will also describe which trees are best for fire (birch burns long and slow in the winter so traditionally winter camps were close to birch trees). Lastly, a service learning activity where students can participate in cutting and bundling kindling for Elders.
These units and activities will contain language, songs, and any other relevant cultural resources to support the units.
The behavioral health consultants will assist in pulling together supporting evidence and recommendations to amplify mental health benefits of language and culture.
For example, going back to the tree unit. Children exposed to "green spaces" have been shown in longitudinal studies to increase brain cell density. Exposure to natural light has been shown to balance both melatonin and serotonin levels which are essential in sleep and mood. It has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. Going on "adventures" with groups of people have been shown to increase oxytocin which is a chemical that promotes bonding and trust. Giving has been shown to improve mental health more than receiving (service learning unit and taking care of Elders). There are studies that demonstrate the brain can bond to a land base the same way you bond to family. For children suffering attachment disruption, bonding with a land base can be a safe place to start.