It’s no secret, that during this time of a pandemic, many students have struggled to meet and socialize, or learn and interact with their culture. With the current challenges present in our communities, some native students have been creative in their own projects learning their culture. In this week’s highlight, we would like to spotlight a personal project that Brooke Thompson, a UNITY 25 under 25 awardee, has done for herself. The project she created, were laminated dinner mats with common table items names in her language. Brooke was kind enough to share a little bit about the idea behind her projects as well as some images of her table mats.
“I created a placemat for myself to start having dinners in Yurok. It is one thing to take language classes but another to start using it in my daily life. I grew up living with my grandfather Archie Thompson who was the last Native (L1) Yurok speaker. Yurok brings me closer to him, and closer to my ancestors because knowing the language lets me know how my people use to think. Knowing how people thought, such as having no general word for trees because we need to know each one and respect them as lifeforms, helps me become closer to my culture. It is my goal to be a fluent speaker one day and speak Yurok in my home not only at mealtime but all the time! This placemat is a good start to my goal.”
This is a great idea for not only individual projects, but for youth councils looking to do language and cultural projects within their own community while social distancing.