Connecting Land, Language and Drum

Mar. 10, 2021

“Language comes from the environment. Call naamoo (the bee) by the sound it makes or it won’t recognize you.”

~Elder Reg Crowshoe

Piitoayis Family School students (PFS) and teachers have, this year, taken up land-based learning as a part of everyday teaching and learning, connecting with and learning from Na’a. The year-long inquiry question, “Who am I?” is explored every day and weaved into every part of teaching and learning.

Thus far, we have been gifted pleasant weather for being with the land. While outside, students offer tobacco and connect drum, song, and language to the land. This is essential in a holistic approach to learning; when children are able to attend to their spirit they are more ready to engage in learning.

“Mookaakit iikaakiimaat (persevere and try hard)” is an essential part of our daily PFS prayer, and has now formed the basis of our School Development Plan’s well-being for learning goal. Well students, students who are able to identify who they are and how they belong, are better prepared to engage in learning.

Knowledge Keeper Darcy TurningRobe reminds students weekly during drum residency teachings that they are leaders, that they are connected to both the past and the future, and that they are connected to the land. The stories, oral text, of Ninastiko, the origins of the drum, and dance, passed from one knowledge keeper to the knowledge keepers of the future, support students in connecting the land and to who they are.

Blackfoot language teacher Sandra Manyfeathers reminds students weekly that they are connected to one another, to family, and to ancestors, and that the language is in them waiting to wake back up again. She reminds them to take risks in learning and that in persevering and trying hard they are making progress as language learners and in understanding who they are as learners.

Who are PFS learners?      Land.  Language.  Confident.  Connected.  Indigenous.