Nkʷuwils: becoming one through Sqelixʷ education

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Education, Health & Human Development


To carry the hope envisioned by the Elders and ancestors who have come before us, it is our duty as Séliš and Ql'ispé peoples of The Flathead Reservation, to stand together to redefine success for our children--to re-imagine a system of education that realizes deeper understandings of our traditional languages and cultures, stronger identity, greater pride, higher rates of achievement as determined by our people, and better preparation for our children to live in the best way possible, as strong and proud contributors and leaders for our communities. Guided by teachings passed on since time immemorial, we can meld our traditional languages, cultures, educational strategies, practices, and lifeways with high expectations to provide an education that prepares our children to lead our communities, state, nation and world in spiritual, cultural, linguistic, emotional, physical, and academic ways. The information gathered within this work has been informed by informal conversations with Sqelixʷ Elders, their children, and their grandchildren, which have followed Sqelixʷ life ways to work towards finding a consensus. This collaborative work offers seven key considerations to remember in regards to understanding and carrying on Sqelixʷ education and lifeways: 1) Nkʷuwilš (Intergenerational Nature); 2) St̓ulix̣ Sʔac̓c̓x̣s łut Sqlqelixʷ (Sqelixʷ Worldview; 3) Ɫus Nqwtnaqsms łu Spx̣pax̣t (Importance of Spirituality; 4) Putʔem u Nćxʷlew̓s (Respect and Relationships); 5) X̣est Sm̓im̓eyem łul Scxʷlxʷlt (Appropriate Teachings Throughout Lifetime; 6) Nttelšm u Nttelšmis (Willingness and Wantingness); and, 7) Sxʷiććš łu č̓ Sqlqelixʷ (Contribution to Community). The findings redefine education for our Sqelixʷ people, from womb until we continue our journeys into life with our ancestors. In fact, the key understandings shared are so robust they identify holistic ways of being - as educators, as learners, as people guided by respect, love, hope, spirituality, contribution to community, and so many other values - Sqelixʷ values. They remind us how to live in the best way, with and for our people. This work solidifies the idea that education for Indigenous communities is best when it is defined by the community. It adds an example for others to use as a reference while working with their own Indigenous communit(ies) globally.




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