First Grade Gives Thanks + Learns About the First Inhabitants of this Land

Did You Know?
The Sun Valley Community School campus sits on the traditional homelands of the eastern and western bands of the Northern Shoshone and Bannock, or Northern Paiute, bands. The ancestral lands of both tribes occupied vast regions of the land encompassing present-day Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and into Canada. The Shoshone and Bannock tribes entered into peace treaties in 1863 and 1868, known today as the Fort Bridger Treaty. Idaho is home to five tribal nations with over 5,900 members, who continue to have significant economic and social impacts on the state.

Inspired by the above history and conversations with room parents about how to celebrate Thanksgiving in such a way to honor the native people and the land that we live on, Hannah Young’s 1st grade class headed up to Dumke Family Sagewillow Campus shortly before Thanksgiving Break to share their gratitude. Weaving in a cultural, historical, and social justice lesson into it, Hannah and Noni organized a meaningful gratitude ceremony and land acknowledgement for the 1st grade class.

Hannah says, “We made ornaments with Cara's (Frost, ES/MS Art) help and materials in the barn and took the ornaments out to a beautiful evergreen tree near the pond. The snow had melted around the tree, leaving a perfect circle for us to stand inside. We gathered in a circle around it and admired it's wisdom and beauty. Each child held their ornament in their hands, while I read the book, Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message by Chief Jake Swamp and asked each child to think about the land we were standing on, what it has brought to us, and who came before us. I don't think I have ever heard this class so quiet! When I finished the book, we took turns placing the ornaments on the tree, while sharing our gratitude for the place we live, the people that lived here, and all the things that we are grateful for (family, animals, the Earth, clean water, health and well-being, and even Caesar Salad!). It was a huge success! It all came together seamlessly and I hope it left a powerful impression on the students.

Hannah’s hope is to follow up on this message and use it to dive deeper into learning about the Shoshone-Bannock people, native cultures, land acknowledgement, and a sense of place.