Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

November 11, 2010

Ground breaking CSKT fire education project distributes new guide to educators

PABLO The groundbreaking Fire on the Land environmental-education project now has a new curriculum guide, which is being distributed to educators on the Flathead Indian Reservation. This is a tribal project that is based on tribal values and works toward cultural competence while meeting state education standards.

This curriculum, with the Fire on the Land DVD, integrates tribal and scientific knowledge about fire. Students can explore a Coyote story about stealing fire from the sky world, listen to interviews with tribal elders and fire managers, interact with a primer on the science of fire ecology, and read a history about the collision of Indian and non-Indian views on the use of fire on the land.

The multimedia collection is infused with the cultural values of the Salish and Pend d'Oreille, whose worldview differs from mainstream practices. This program offers an alternative way of looking at both fire and landscapes and how Native Peoples used fire in the Northern Rockies.

This curriculum is part of a larger fire-education project produced by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs-National Interagency Fire Center. Entitled Native People and Fire in the Northern Rockies, the project includes an interactive DVD Fire on the Land (Disk 1) - the contents of which are on this Curriculum DVD-the storybook Beaver Steals Fire published by the University of Nebraska Press, and a short film Beaver Steals Fire, based on the book.

The curriculum DVD includes 12 lessons that explore topics including: A contemporary retelling of a traditional Coyote story that teaches fire was a treasured gift, landscape photos taken from the same place over time that reveals changes, elders lessons on the changing land and uses of fire. Also explored are lessons on the Tribes' life cycle and the use of fire within it and materials that engage students to understand historical events in the lives of the Tribes. There are also problem-solving games tied to how different forests and grassland types will respond to fire.

Reservation schools are receiving the curriculum free of charge. Teachers who want to obtain a copy should contact Germaine White. Several hundred copies have already been distributed to reservation and Missoula schools.

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