Third Graders Explore Indigenous History

Third Graders Explore Indigenous History

All year, third graders have been exploring the question: “What is the story of this place we call Oregon?” They have been learning the history of our campus and the stories that the land holds.

The project builds upon the story map created by the 2022 third grade class, who “looked around our campus and noticed there was no evidence of our shared, tribal history. They wanted people to know that this is native land.” This year’s class agreed and has continued the learning and stewardship.

As the students shared, “Our project is teaching that Indigenous communities have important ways of knowing and being, that they are still here today, that they are powerful, and you are always on their homelands.”

The third graders decided to create learning cards, with one set focused on the OES wetlands and one on the woods. They each chose a topic to research such as native plants, canoeing, or fishing, and wrote up a summary for their card. They made a watercolor or colored pencil drawing of their subject and included its name in Chinuk Wawa.

The students also learned about lifeways—important ways of knowing and being —from tribal experts like seventh-generation basket weaver Stephanie Craig of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. Craig came to the OES campus to talk with students about tribal history, native plants, and to give them an introduction to basket weaving.

Once the cards were finished, the third grade teachers bound them into booklets, to be accompanied by the updated story map.

On May 12, parents came to campus to help celebrate the completion of this year’s Since Time Immemorial project. With booklets and maps in hand, students joyfully took their parents around campus to share what they had learned with them. One father shared, “The Since Time Immemorial celebration allowed August to take a leadership role in guiding parents through the forested route and gave him the opportunity to practice his public speaking skills in front of a small, friendly audience. The entire process bolstered his confidence and self-esteem. His mother and I appreciated being included in the class exploration of this important topic.”
Third Grade Teacher Kristen Zimmer praised the students in her opening remarks: “Third graders, we’re so proud of you for learning to listen when our tribal community is sharing, for working hard to learn about Indigenous stories and experiences, and for practicing how to be curious and respectful.”

The students had much to say about the project:

  • “When Stephanie came, it was really easy to learn from someone with knowledge in person rather than just from articles.” Owen T.
  • "My biggest contribution to the story map project was showing my family why it's important to share these stories and keep these stories alive." Edie H.
  • “I am proud of how clearly I spoke. I enjoyed talking to my dad about what I learned and what OES looked like when he was here and how it is now.” Matthew D.

The third graders are going to give learning cards and story maps to the other Lower School classes and also make them available to anyone who’d like to experience the Since Time Immemorial learning moments around campus.

Thank you to Sammy Prugsamatz, Lower School and Extension Teacher, for her photos for this story.