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NTPS & Nisqually Tribe Collaborate on Land Acknowledgement (11/26/19)

Nisqually Tribal Flag with the words s'qwali?abs Medicine Creek Nation and their logo On November 5, the North Thurston Public Schools (NTPS) Board of Directors unanimously approved language and protocol for a formal land acknowledgement with the Nisqually Tribe. Land acknowledgement is the practice of opening meetings and events with a statement recognizing the indigenous inhabitants of the land. North Thurston Public Schools reside on the traditional lands of the Nisqually people, who have lived on their aboriginal homeland near the present-day communities of Olympia, Tenino, and Dupont for 10,000 years.

Pleasant Glade kids drumming Developed in partnership with the Nisqually Tribe, the following acknowledgement statement will be read at future school board meetings, school assemblies, district-wide public events and evening events at our schools:

“We acknowledge that North Thurston Public Schools resides on the traditional lands of the Nisqually people. The Nisqually have lived on and cared for this land and these waterways since time immemorial. We make this acknowledgement to open a space of recognition, inclusion, and respect for our sovereign tribal partners and all indigenous students, families, and staff in our community.” (Note: this is a living document that may grow or be clarified over time.)

Kate Frazier, NTPS Director of Equity and Languages, commented on the importance of this effort. “North Thurston Public Schools expresses our gratitude and appreciation to the Nisqually Tribe, who are the traditional stewards of the land on which our schools reside. We believe that it is our responsibility as an academic institution, in partnership with the Nisqually Tribe, to educate our students, staff and families about the true history of colonialism and the continued need to address colonialism today.” She went on to say, “Importantly, we hope this land acknowledgement will encourage our community to reflect and engage in thoughtful conversations about these issues.”

Willie Frank Jr. III, Nisqually Tribal Council Member, also spoke highly of the process, saying “We want to thank the North Thurston School District for stepping up and working with the Nisqually Tribe on land acknowledgment. It will be exciting to see our Nisqually flag hanging around every school in the school district. We want to thank the leadership at River Ridge High School for reaching out last year and building this relationship with the Nisqually Tribe. This is a good start in the right direction. We want to continue our work and educate our schools about the Nisqually Tribe and the rich history in this area.”

Kindergarteners at Pleasant Glade having a tribal drumming and singing lesson As part of this collaborative effort, NTPS is honored to be gifted Nisqually Tribe flags to fly at each of our 22 schools. Flying this flag will serve as daily recognition of their traditional lands, thriving government and culture. It will also support openness and awareness of all indigenous peoples and our duty as public educators to equitably support and educate Native children. NTPS has a federally-funded Native student education program that currently includes about 240 students from more than 50 tribes, bands and nations.

To prepare for the flag display, every building will engage in a lesson developed in partnership with the Nisqually Tribe and North Thurston Flag raising ceremony at Evergreen Forest with a large crowd surrounding the flagpole. Public Schools staff. The purpose of this lesson is to educate our students, staff and families about the significance of the Nisqually Tribal flag as well as our ongoing commitment to partner with the tribe to educate our community about our history of colonization and the present day need to decolonize our education system.

Note: The Nisqually Tribe Flag will be flown throughout the school year and only taken down during specific days when another flag is set to be flown such as the POW/MIA flag. There are some building flag poles that are not tall enough to fly three flags when flags are required to be at half-mast. In this case, the Nisqually Tribal Flag will not be flown at certain buildings.