One America Community Efforts
Little Bar

Program: Cradleboard Teaching Project, Kapaa, Hawaii
Contact(s): Buffy Sainte-Marie, Founder: (808) 822-3111
Purpose: To nurture the self-esteem of both Indian and non-Indian children by improving cultural awareness and relations

Background Program Operations Outcomes


In 1986, a white fifth-grade teacher realized that although she had an American Indian student in her classroom, she did not have a teaching unit about this population. She asked the student's mother, who was also a teacher, to develop a Native American curriculum unit to use in her class. The Native American teacher first developed a seven-page curriculum for the fifth-grade teacher, then expanded the material into a 43-page teaching unit which can be used for all grades. This work represented the founding of the Cradleboard Teaching Project, which has expanded beyond curriculum to become a mechanism through which Indian and non-Indian students from around the country can exchange ideas about their cultures.

Program Operations

In preparation for participating in the project, Indian and non-Indian students and teachers take baseline tests to measure their knowledge of Native American culture. In addition, the classes prepare self-identity videos and other materials that are designed to communicate their understanding of their own culture. In Phase I of the project, the classes implement the Cradleboard National Curriculum, designed to provide a Native American perspective while supplementing national standards in Geography, Social Studies, History, Science and Music. After this curriculum is completed, the classes move to Phase II, called Interactive Cultural Partnering. In this phase, the students exchange videos and materials designed to communicate students' sense of collective cultural identity. The students also ask each other questions about their respective cultures and histories through interactive discussion on the Internet. In addition, the American Indian community creates and shares classes specific to the tribe for both American Indian and public schools, which encourages the students to study together.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

In addition to the many Indian and non-Indian students who have benefitted from the program, the project is developing lesson plans for the National Museum of the American Indian on the objects and artifacts that they have accumulated under their care. Participants of the program attend conferences which allow tribal participants and non-Indian children and educators to visit a Native American community for two days. Native American children experience a boost in self-esteem by not only learning about their own culture, but also teaching other students about it.

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