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January 12, 2023
In many Indigenous cultures, winter is the season of storytelling: to educate, to remember, and to share with the next generations. Honoring traditional cultural cycles in our practices, the Indigenous Early Learning Collaborative (IELC), led by First Light Education Project (Denver, CO) and Brazelton Touchpoints Center (BTC) (Boston, MA), is telling its story in this winter season, through the creation of a project website, publication of written reports, and the release of a documentary film.
On Tuesday, January 24, at 5 PM ET / 2 PM PT, the IELC will premiere the film, Indigenous Early Learning Collaborative: Advancing Community-Based Inquiry and Equitable Early Learning Opportunities for Native Children & Families, in which the IELC communities share their stories of implementing Community-Based Inquiry (CBI). You can join the video premiere virtually on BTC’s Zoom platform or view it later on the IELC website.
Visitors to the IELC website can learn about the IELC’s work in various forms: the IELC 2021-2022 Annual Report, the 2022 Co-learning Evaluation Report, and two Project Briefs released during this storytelling season. Additionally, in 2023, each of the four communities will share their stories of CBI in a special issue of the American Indian Culture and Research Journal.
The IELC is a national initiative designed for Indigenous communities to strengthen early childhood education by generating their own critical questions and constructing local, relevant, and sustainable solutions. Community members are the researchers, using CBI to ask questions, develop methodologies, analyze data, and take immediate action to address issues of importance in early childhood education.
The initial four IELC communities are, from east to west:
- Wiikwedong Early Childhood Development Collaborative (L’Anse, MI)
- Wicoie Nandagikendan Immersion Program (Minneapolis, MN)
- Daybreak Star Preschool (Seattle, WA)
- Keiki Steps (The Institute for Native Pacific Education and Culture, Hawai ’i)
“At the heart of the work of the IELC is the importance of relationships. It’s all about the communities — who they are and exactly where they are,” says Dr. Joshua Sparrow, Executive Director of BTC.
Dr. Tarajean Yazzie-Mintz, Founder and Principal Consultant of First Light Education Project and Director of the IELC, articulates the powerful impact of this work: “What we have seen across these sites are educators finally realizing that they have the power in their hands to change the world.”