UNITY Executive Director speaks at McNary Elementary School
“How many of you are the oldest child in your family?” asked UNITY’s Executive Director Mary Kim Titla to students at McNary Elementary school. Many raised their hands. “How many of you are the middle child?” More raised their hands. “How many of you are the babies of the family?” The last of the hands went up in the school gymnasium where all 135 students K-12 recently gathered to hear Titla’s presentation during Native American Heritage Month.
Titla, the oldest of five children, described how she was expected to be a role model to her siblings, which meant doing well in school and graduating from college. “When I was growing up, my parents never said if you go to college, it was always when you go to college. They said a college education is the key to success,” she said. All five Titla children graduated from college. “The best part of the story is, my parents quit their jobs and graduated with my youngest brother from Grand Canyon University.”
In addition to promoting a stay in school message, Titla brought items for show and tell to encourage students to be proud of their Apache heritage. She invited students to hold the objects while describing them such as Apache baskets, cradle board, dolls, violin and the Apache Peridot stones. Two girls volunteered to wear the upper half of an Apache buckskin dress, made for her oldest granddaughter when she was about 8-years-old. Titla, who wore an Apache camp dress and moccasins, explained how deer skin is tanned and how her sister tanned deer skin to make her moccasins.
“The students were respectful and super attentive. Many of them knew their clans and the Apache names for some of the items I brought. The school is supportive of promoting the history and heritage of Apache people, which is great!,” said Titla. She also shared some information about the national UNITY organization and how she hoped students in McNary will someday attend a UNITY event.