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PECS celebrates Native American Heritage Month

A group of students show off their patchwork on a lawn at PECS. (PECS)

Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School was alive in November with Native American Heritage Month celebrations. Principal
Tracy Downing acknowledged the month in a message to students.

“The month of November is deemed Native American Heritage Month. A time for learning about, appreciating and
acknowledging the contributions of Native Americans. The month is a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions and continuing culture of Native people,” Downing wrote in the Nov. 8 weekly newsletter.

Activities included classroom projects and lessons, a celebration of moccasins called “Rock Your Mocs” on Nov. 15 and
plenty of patchwork was worn at school all month. Throughout the month, social studies teacher Michelle Pritchard’s second through fourth grade classes completed a weeks-long unit on Native Americans. The students studied tribes across the country including the Tlingit in Alaska, Cheyenne in the Plains, Hopi in the Southwest, Iroquois in the Northeast and Seminole in Florida.

“We went deep into each tribe,” Pritchard said. “The kids were fascinated by the Tlingit and their Raven and Eagle clans. They learned if you are a Raven woman, you have to marry an Eagle man in arranged marriages. The women raise their sister’s daughters and the boys are raised by her brother. Legend says you spoil your own children but you won’t spoil nieces and nephews.”

Students learned that like many tribes, including the Seminole, the Iroquois plant the three sisters – squash, corn and beans – together in the garden. Corn is planted first, then the beans grow up the corn stalks and squash is added to the ground. The three plants work advantageously together in the soil.

Students also learned there are 574 federally recognized tribes in the U.S. and 50 First Nations in Canada.

“This was a great awakening, the students didn’t know that,” Pritchard said. “There was a lot of discovery during the
unit.”

A second grader shows her pictograph that pictures a man and woman living in a teepee who saw a deer during the summer. (PECS)
A video shown at PECS commemorating Native American Heritage Month included brief biographies of many notable Native Americans, including Seminole women, such as Lorene Gopher, Jennie Shore and Louise Jones Gopher, who stressed the importance of language and culture. (PECS)
Students and teachers donned moccasins to “Rock Your Mocs.” (PECS)
Students examine a display for Native American Heritage Month in a PECS classroom. (PECS)
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Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at beverlybidney@semtribe.com.
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