Honoring our Graduates 2011
This past June 21st 2011, our intertribal community gathered at Indian Heritage to witness our Rites of Passage Graduation Ceremony. The Urban AI/AN Education Alliance in collaboration with Seattle Clear Sky Native Youth Council hosted the 4th Annual Honoring our Graduates ceremony. In partnership with Big Picture School and Kent Indian Education program we successfully joined together to honoring students across Puget Sound region.
The ceremony started with a slight hiccup due to the delay in the delivery of our feast however, the expectant audience was quickly transfixed by the impromptu performances from talented flutist Dallas Pinkham (Yakama), and famous traditional storyteller Roger Fernandes (Lower Elwa S’klallam Band of Indians).
Seattle Clear Sky Native Youth students followed with a unique performance titled “Running Song” which was lead by the instruction of Yakama Elder Glen Pinkham.
The overwhelming success of this event was highlighted by the sheer number of participants. We identified over 180 attendees, an amazing gathering which exceeded our expectations!
Members of the UAI/ANEA presented original Native designed prints by Andrew Morrison (Apache/ Haida) and Roger Fernandez (Lower Elwa S’Klallam Band of Indians), certificates, and beaded items to fifteen Native High School graduates, and ten 8th grade graduates. Numerous students represented Seattle Public Schools, and some students represented school districts from Gig Harbor, Kent, Eastside, and Highline. Student tribal affiliation included: Snoqualmie, Turtle Mt. Chippewa, Cherokee, Chocktow, Arapahoe, Sioux, Lower Elwa S’klallam, Mayan, Seminol, Alutiiq, Tlinkit, and Haida. Native graduates represented their respective tribes with honor, dignity, and pride.
The Urban AI/AN Education Alliance received multiple requests from various members of the community to specially acknowledge outstanding teachers, staff, and administrators. We acknowledged over 25 staff members and volunteers for their dedication to Native learners through advocacy, culturally responsive instruction, and culturally relevant curriculum. We want to honor their efforts, and encourage continuous strides towards instructional excellence, equity, and educational justice. We honor their commitment to the educational success of our Native learners.
The Rite of Passage ceremony consisted of a traditional salmon feast, buffalo stew, fry bread and several sheet cakes. Glen Pinkham delivered the opening and closing prayers for the evening. Our keynote speaker attorney, Millie Kennedy (Tsimshian) gave an inspirational speech emphasizing the importance of Native identity and civic responsibility. Her protégé pre-law student Patricia Allen (Tsimshian) shared her experience with balancing both personal academic pursuits while remaining committed to social justice through her active involvement and membership to NDN’s for Justice Organization. Shanoa Pinkham (Yakama) dazzled the audience wearing her traditional regalia and fully beaded Miss Yakama crown. Shanoa Pinkham’s presentation underscored the importance of tribal identity and ongoing involvement in our Native community. Siera Wilson (Oglala, Sioux) SCSNYC member, briefly summarized SCSNYC program and how participation with SCSNYC has enhanced her commitment to academic success and strengthened her tribal identity.
Robert Fredrickson (Tsimshian) also known as Raven Speaker was the evenings Master of Ceremony. Raven Speaker seamlessly facilitated the program despite the unexpected changes in the schedule. Raven Speaker eloquently delivered encouraging messages to students, staff and participants, emphasizing education, community collaboration, collective cooperation and individual responsibility to our intertribal urban community.
Special thanks to several members of our community whom assisted with various essential duties necessary for making this event a memorable experience.
John and Jill LaPoint, Vicki Pinkham, Alice Tu, Roger Fernandes, Pinkham family, Adrain Diaz (Police Activities League), Big Picture School, Kent Indian Education Program, Suquamish Tribe, Norbert and Delia Charlie, Norine Hill, Andrew Morrison, Billie Fischer, Florence Kay Fiddler, and Mike and Betsy Tulee.