Connecting with their Culture, Spirit

May 18, 2007

Author: Robert Gutsche Jr

Source: The Chicago Tribune

MILWAUKEE -- When his students are in trouble, Jarod Pidgeon can burn grasses, sage or other herbs to open a connection with the spirit world. He can pray with the children or perform a ceremony inside a sweat lodge -- all at his school.

Pidgeon has options unavailable to most other teachers because he works for the Indian Community School, a private religious school near downtown Milwaukee.

Here, children not only learn about the physics of a thunderstorm, they also learn about the spiritual significance of rain, its meaning and how storms add to nature -- and to their very beings.

"In our daily lives as native people, our purpose for being here, our reason for being here and what we have done through our teaching and our values comes from what we call our creator," said Principal Alan Caldwell. "Here, students learn about that, and can take it home to their parents."

Education that incorporates the spirituality and history of native cultures is becoming increasingly popular as educators seek to give students and their families a strong foundation for life.