Enterprise Elementary celebrates Indigenous People's Day.

First graders in Mrs. Hook’s Enterprise Elementary School class examine a real bear claw necklace and beaded moccasins as part of understanding the close relationship between the Nez Perce and the natural world. The event was part of the school’s celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day.

Enterprise Elementary School and the Wallowa Band Nez Perce Homeland Project collaborated to celebrate Oregon’s official holiday of Indigenous Peoples Day with discussions and hands-on displays about the lives and culture of the Nez Perce. About 100 children in grades K-3 participated. They examined teepees, necklaces, and the seasonal round calendar to learn about the Nez Perce’s relationship with the natural world. They thought about how a culture could use oral storytelling rather than writing to pass on its history. And they learned that people had lived here for more than 16,000 years.

“It’s important for children to understand both perspectives, and be aware of the bigger picture of what truly happened during the settlement of our land,” said Superintendent Erika Pinkerton.

“This is an opportunity to explore the deep history of this region,” said Angela Bombaci, of the Wallowa Band Nez Perce Homeland Project who developed and coordinated the event. “We wanted the kids to know 1) Whose homeland they live in 2) That they were here long before any Europeans traveled here 3) That their respect and knowledge of the land allowed them to live well for thousands of years here 4) That Indigenous peoples know many things to be true about the ancient past even if not written in books, thanks to oral tradition and archaeological evidence. We were excited to receive the invitation from Enterprise Primary School. Indigenous People’s Day is a great opportunity to start a conversation with these young kids that we can build on as they grow up in this community. We hope to celebrate this holiday with even more students next year.”

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