“All My Relatives”
Netāēnawemākanak is a middle school science unit designed to support teaching and learning that is culturally relevant and place-based. Our vision for this unit is that it engages students of all cultural backgrounds in learning key science concepts through multiple ways of knowing and exploring local issues. We also envision that by privileging the experiences of local Indigenous communities in the science learning process that this curriculum helps build cross-cultural bridges between native students and science as well as between native and non-native communities in the area.
This unit provides students with opportunities to learn important standards-based ecological ideas in the context of the Menominee Forest, a 234,000 acre forest located on the Menominee reservation in northeast Wisconsin. The Menominee Forest is an important ecosystem in its surrounding area, and it has importance regionally and globally. It provides a remarkable context for teaching and learning the big science ideas that are included in these Disciplinary Core Ideas:
LS2A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems
LS2C: Ecosystems Dynamics, Functioning and Resilience
In addition, the design of the lessons in this unit aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards vision for science education—the vision that science teaching and learning should reflect the interconnected nature of science by embedding crosscutting concepts in all grade levels. Five of the seven crosscutting concepts that overarch the science standards are well supported by this unit, and support for Common Core English Language Arts Standards is included throughout.
Design of this Unit was a collaborative effort, involving educators, scientists, and community members from the Menominee and Oneida Nations and the surrounding area in the Wolf and Fox River watersheds along with POSOH faculty and staff at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Michigan State University, and the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center.
POSOH’s primary partnership involves the College of Menominee Nation and its Sustainable Development Institute, UW-Madison, CESA 8, Michigan State University, and the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center. Many other partners and participating educators from area tribal and public schools, including guest culture and science specialists were involved in designing and reviewing these instructional materials for content accuracy and the integration of cultural knowledge, field-testing, and participating in discussion groups that provided valuable insight for curriculum development and revisions. Additional community meetings were held at the College of Menominee Nation early in the design of the unit that also influenced the design of the materials included here. These many inputs were combined by curriculum developers at UW-Madison to produce this unit, Netāēnawemākanak.
Cover illustration and artwork in Lesson 1 by Anthony Gauthier