Friday, April 18, 2014

Wonder Women and Super Men: IEFA Superheroes

When I found out I'd be talking to teachers about this topic, I immediately thought: superheroes! And who better to help me select superheroes and movie clips but my nine-year-old son. We spent a nice afternoon together clipping videos into one-minute segments and dropping them into my powerpoint. But why? What makes this topic different and special? It's something close to my lived experience and at the core of my teaching experience: Indian Education for All.

This state initiative, begun in 1972 with the rewriting of the Montana Constitution, integrated into Montana law in 1999, and funded in 2005, has gained momentum as I've grown as a teacher. I have worked in tribal schools for 15 years and I wrote my doctoral dissertation on this topic while IEFA training and materials have been shaped, promoted, and disseminated in various ways across the state. It's a part of me, and so when Eliza Sorte Thomas asked me to kick off her IEFA showcase today, all I could think was...superheroes!

I talked to the group this morning about the continuing need for spokespeople in our state to support IEFA, and the different roles we might take: outspoken advocates, silent leaders, and those with the ability and humility to take on another's perspective in order to help them reflect on it. I showed the clips my son and I had chosen to exemplify the actions of these superheroes. I handed out business cards that proclaimed the holder is a "Superhero IEFA Educator"! 

But my talk was just the start of the day. The next event was an inventive historical-musical show put on by Jack Gladstone (Blackfeet), Rob Quist, and Dave Griffith. Jack's project was a tribute to Charlie Russell, and so he sang about Montana history in relation to Russell's work, particularly from an Indian perspective and punctuating songs with historical information and commentary. 

On the Warrior Trail I'm sharing my community with the world by leaving feathers where I go, and linking back to the community through this blog. Jack Gladstone was proud to attach the Flathead Nation feather to his guitar and even gave me a copy of his Native Anthropology CD with a song about Louis Charlo, Salish soldier who raised the flag at Iwo Jima. It was a neat two-way connection.

Driving home through the wind and snow squalls I was reminded again of the beauty of this place, and the respect we must give it...and each other. 


  1. I applaud your efforts in support of IEFA - so urgent that all of us of whatever race and culture, as citizens of the world, study contributions of cultures other than our own where ever we encounter them. It's not a simple task and requires a non-prejudicial engagement by all races and all cultures.

  2. The Warrior Trail is an amazing way to document and share all of the wonderful experiences you are having as Montana's ambassador of education this year. I truly believe that our experiences are so much about all of our students past and present and all of our wonderful colleagues who can't physically be with us. We are honoring them all. Let's tie some ribbons and feathers! Go, Anna! Go Montana educators and students!