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Tempe Elementary Celebrates Native American Heritage

Post Date:11/07/2019

Dance group 1November is National Native American Heritage Month. In Tempe Elementary, we are proud to have representation from 66 Native American tribes and approximately 1,350 Native American students. 

Laird School is one campus that is focusing on creating awareness and appreciation for Native American heritage. Each week this quarter, they are announcing a tribe at Laird with a brief set of facts about the tribe. At Laird, seven Native American tribes are represented in the student population.  

In October, they welcomed special dance group Indigenous Enterprise. This group has traveled across the world performing their cultural dances. They came to Laird to perform and showcase their heritage for all students in an assembly. 

 “I am a strong believer that we need to respect the traditions of different cultures. Through events like this, I wanted to have our Native American students come away feeling a sense of pride in who they are and the traditions and beliefs they hold as Native Americans and to have the rest of the student body come away with a greater understanding and respect,” said SEALS Teacher Sherrie Griffin. 

Several students at Laird also have relatives who were code talkers. Some of the families loaned the school items that have been put on display in the cafeteria. Weaving group

“I was talking to a parent, and she said her two boys talked about the dance assembly when they got home from school, and they don't often talk about school. That was cool!”

Tempe Elementary has a department that focuses specifically on identifying and working with Native American students. The Native American Program was established to help promote cultural awareness and narrow the gap between the District and Native American students and families. 

“We want students to always feel at home when they come into a Tempe school, regardless of their nationality,” said Native American Program Coordinator Ronald Stiffarm. 

The Native American program offers events to help bring the Native American community together, such as weaving and ceramic classes, parent coffee club, family reading nights, and more. In addition, they work with outside agencies like the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and the Phoenix Indian Center that support the Native American population. 

To learn more about the TD3’s Native American program, visit their website.