SEN Hero

Interview With Darlene Spiedel

Building relationships between mainstream environmental education and traditional First Nations teachings

Darlene SpiedelDarlene Speidel is a Lakota woman who is the current Director of Cultural Resource Development and Publications for the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Center and is a longtime advocate for First Nations control of education and the development of First Nations bilingual/bicultural education programs.

Darlene has been involved in developing a variety of curriculum resources for Saskatchewan classrooms including Practicing the Law of Circular Interaction.

In this a brief interview, Darlene shares some of her perspectives on how First Nations teachings can help teachers in all classrooms help young people to develop more sustainable relations with the earth.

How do you think First Nations and non-First Nations communities can learn from each other to help build a more sustainable society?

What are some of these principles?

What do you think is important for teaching our young people today?

How are young people in First Nations Communities learning about these issues today?

What are some good ways that non-First Nations teachers can address these issues in their classrooms?

Teachers who want to talk about First Nations culture and relationships with the environment need to have some rudimentary understanding of our traditional environmental principles and how to teach them.

In what ways can teachers learn about these things?

They can consult curriculum packages, like Practicing the Law of Circular Interaction, that have been developed by First Nations people. As well, teachers can consult with Elders from a local First Nation and/or from elsewhere in the province. It is helpful to talk to Elders from different language culture groups because although there are commonalities each group is also distinct in their traditions. (Dene, Woodland Cree, Swampy Cree, Plains Cree, Nakawe (Saulteaux), Dakota, Nakota, and Lakota are the language culture groups in Saskatchewan). Teachers can also seek advice from Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Center staff and/or access the Center's resource library.

To receive a copy of the Practicing the Law of Circular Interaction curriculum resource, please contact the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Center.