How can environmental issues be addressed in California if native people are ignored? The Advocacy and Water Protection in Native California program aims to make their voices heard through education reform.
The “Advocacy and Water Protection in Native California” programme was born out of several observations. The impacts of California’s water and climate policy, and outdated and racist curriculum disproportionately impact Tribal communities and communities of color. Tribal governments, tribal members and youth, and other communities impacted by climate-related fires, poor water quality and lack of fish are left out of many water and fisheries-related decisions. Native people do not see themselves in their curriculum and non-native students do not learn critical histories, tools or environmental preservation methods that native people use.
Save California Salmon brings together tribal leaders, fishermen, educators, scientists and focuses much of its work on education and community empowerment. They developed this curriculum to bring the voices of native people and create representation for communities of colour in the environmental community.
In the summer of 2020 Save California Salmon held a 12-part “Advocacy and water protection in native California” speaker series and certificate program with Humboldt State University. Over the following autumn and winter the team has developed a high school curriculum aligned with California state standards for grades 9-12 called the “advocacy and water protection in native California” curriculum and an associated teacher’s resource document and training.
A practical study curriculum
It differs from the usual environmental and native American studies programs in several ways. First, these issues are taught in the present tense and include hands-on, intergenerational, outdoor learning. Secondly, students and their families have the opportunity to actively engage and influence policy and communities. The essons and presentations are led by Native leaders. Finally, policy makers and politicians are involved in webinars that inform the curriculum and have participated in training and outdoor learning projects.
The curriculum provides practical lessons to help engage youth in advocacy work, biological sciences, media and public engagement. The non-profit organisation believes that the voice of young people is essential to protecting and safeguarding the health of rivers, coastlines and waterways. In addition, the civic work that young people engage in helps shape their career paths to maintain connections to their culture and natural environment, as well as to live mentally and physically healthier lives.
This curriculum is proposed in schools, the aim now is to offer it in other counties.
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