MARYSVILLE – While racial protests and violence are taking place across the country, the Tulalip Tribes and Marysville schools are making efforts to mend fences.
“We’ve been adversaries for so long,” said Denny Hurtado with the state schools office. Ever since indians were sent to boarding schools in 1987 to “kill the culture, but save the man, there has been a lot of mistrust with education,” he said.
In an effort to end that divisiveness and build a relationship, the Marysville School Board made a historic decision Dec. 8. It approved, to a standing ovation, the use of the Native American curriculum called “Since Time Immemorial” for use in Marysville schools.
Prior to the vote, a number of local Native Americans spoke about the importance of adoption.
“This will begin the process of healing with our people,” said Randy Vendiola, who works at Liberty Elementary. “This is a golden opportunity. Our elders are looking to us.”
Vendiola said this type of curriculum will help close the tension between the two communities.
“We won’t be the people across the freeway anymore,” he said.
Hurtado added: “I wished we had this fifty years ago.”
Eliza Davis, who works at Tulalip Quil Ceda Elementary, said she took Washington State History at Marysville-Pilchuck High School years ago. All she remembers about the class was watching the movie, “Appaloosa.”
“There’s a real lack of knowledge about the Tulalip people and what Tulalip does for this community as a whole,” she said.
Accurate information about Native Americans is missed in education, so Hurtado said a lot of time and effort was put into the curriculum to get it right. Both indians and non-indians were involved.
“It’s not just an indian thing going on,” Hurtado said.
He explained that 30 percent of schools statewide already are using the curriculum. It is free and online so costs are minimal. Different lessons are available at each grade level for not only state history but also U.S. History and Contemporary Issues. Lessons have varied difficulty, with Level 1 just having a discussion about a certain issue. Lessons are aligned with Common Core, and many teachers already have been trained.
The goal is to educate others about Native Americans, and also reduce the achievement gap for students.
“Considering the history on this community, and recent events, too, this has been sorely missed in education from the Marysville School District,” Vendiola said.
The school board actually has been talking about using the curriculum for a few years. But it has been waiting for the Tulalip Tribes to come up with some more local information to teach. But both entities decided the time is now to get the teaching started.
“A consistent theme tonight is this is a key piece to bring the relationship to what is should be,” school board President Tom Albright said.