My Academic Family: Developing an Indigenous Mentorship Model for American Indian Students in STEM
Celebrating research and creative activity with Montana's American Indian communities. Sweeney Windchief's presentation on his research My Academic Family: Developing an Indigenous Mentorship Model for American Indian Students In STEM.
We have to remember that families come in all shapes and forms – there is no longer a dominant, “typical” nuclear family structure in the United States of mom, dad, kids.
For some students, the Iroquois kinship model will seem strange.For others, it may be their own family model!In either case, you, as the teacher, need to ensure that this is a discussion that is not biased either way…it is merely different than students may have encountered and you, as the teacher, have the burden of making certain that family models are “value-neutral”.It certainly is interesting to speculate how those differences change family life or how a student’s life has been shaped by what family model they are used to.It is not okay to rank one or the other as “better” or “worse”.
Suggestions for prior-to-viewing:
Discuss that families come in many forms – there are traditional roles of mother and father, but some students may have other adults in their lives that fulfil that role.Ask students if they have examples of how other families are different than theirs.
Present the idea of kinship models…the fact that differing cultures may structure family differently.
Finally, introduce the video by saying that Sweeny Windchief has extended the model of family to his graduate college experience and see how he explains the roles of his “educational family” and why he thinks this is a good model for other schools to emulate.