Dana Wyatt is a sixth grade teacher at Sheridan Junior High School. In partnership with Panasonic, she has run the Kid Witness News video program there since 1992. Over the years the program has won fourteen awards. This year’s project video, “We See You, But We Don’t Know You,” focuses on her students’ interaction with the nearby Crow Indian tribe.
This year, I began early implementation of the Indian Education for All law with the Kid Witness News (KWN) video program. My KWN students decided to be the district’s trailblazers and create this year’s international competition video project based on learning about their closest Native American peers, who live in Wyola, Montana. The Wyola School (K-8), located 40 miles north of Sheridan on the Crow Indian Reservation, welcomed my students in November 2018 to their on-campus Art, Cultural, and Elder’s Center to begin breaking down barriers and understanding each other. The Crow students worked with their non-native peers to teach them several aspects of Crow culture – including native foods, traditional stories, art, and songs in the Crow language. In addition, the Wyola students shared the history of the Crows as reflected by the symbols in the tribal seal. As the day went by, they were no longer two different groups, but one, interacting as kids do by kidding around, telling jokes, and simply hanging out. At the very end, everyone gathered together and did a friendship dance.
The Native American students then traveled to Sheridan to meet with our students and participate in hands-on learning in the school’s Video Technology Center. Teaming up together, they produced a morning news show. To end the day, both groups gathered outside and played Double Ball, which is one of the favorite games of the Wyola students. Everyone then gathered inside a tipi set up by the elders to listen to a storyteller and to share their own stories. The students from both schools have forged genuine friendships and will co-create this year’s KWN international competition video, entitled Building Cultural Bridges. This cultural exchange will continue throughout the school year for educational opportunities to enhance the students’ understanding of this country’s diverse cultures.