By Steph Carpenter, Youth Services Program Manager


Tribal Programs continue to work in collaboration with administrators, liaisons, and teachers of our NK Kingston Schools. During this last school year, tribal and school staff have been active and engaged in developing joint programming and opportunities for students. One major accomplishment together was in the end of 2023 when the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe hosted Native American Heritage Month Events at Wolfle Elementary, Kingston Middle School, and Kingston High School.

Earlier in 2023 the Tribe’s Youth, Education, and Culture Teams jointly applied for a grant through the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA) under the FY24 Arts in Education (AIE) Project Grant. This funding, along with a Tribal Appendix X Award, supported interactive and educational cultural sessions at the three schools on Tuesday afternoons in November. The student body at each school participated in an all-school assembly that shared local tribal history, as well as sharing of songs and dances, where students and staff, danced along tribal youth and adults.

In addition to the assembly, students visited booths and sessions on native art and culture. The displays of native art and culture were executed by Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribal and Community members, as well as some Suquamish representatives. Experiences students received included: Canoe culture and history, beading, traditional games, storytelling, native instruments, language, regalia, weaving, carving, traditional foods and medicine, food preservation, modern art, painting, treaty and harvesting, environmental protection, medicine wheel and self-care, traditional plants, native films, canoe journey, and MMIW/P. These events would not have been possible without the cultural knowledge keepers that shared and volunteered their time proving unforgettable experiences.

The collaboration between Tribes and the school district created stronger partnerships and an understanding and appreciation of tribal culture. Tribal students shared their culture with their peers and school staff. This sharing instilled a sense of pride among them. The sharing of tribal/Indigenous knowledge enriches the perspective of students and teachers and showcased respect between the student body, school staff, and the tribal community. Events and collaboration such as these, help reduce the division of community within our schools.