October 19, 2018
What This Native American School Network Can Teach Us All
Kara Bobroff is the founding principal of Native American Community Academy, a pioneering school in Albuquerque that grew from an entire community speaking up about what kind of school it wanted. Now in its 13thyear, NACA is expanding within New Mexico and nationally as the “NACA Inspired” Schools Network. Ashoka’s Simon Stumpf caught up with Bobroff to learn more about what makes this model unique and effective for Indigenous students and what it can teach us all.
For some Alaska Natives, the Bering Sea and an international border makes it hard to go home
Koonooka and her two daughters were awaiting a break in the weather, along with a small group of Alaska Native travelers, for a less-than-two-hour flight across the Bering Sea to visit family in Russia.
It’s been many years since Koonooka last saw them in Novo Chaplino, her childhood home.
For generations, residents in this remote part of the world routinely crossed from island to island, moving freely across the US-Russia border. In 1948, J. Edgar Hoover officially closed the border between Russia and Alaska, citing safety reasons. In 1987, the “Ice Curtain” thawed slightly, but for transnational families, travel remains hard.
Koonooka lives in Gambell, Alaska — a small village on St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea about 80 miles from the coastal Russian village of Novo Chaplino where Koonooka grew up.
Three sisters, a brother, nephews, an aunt and many of her friends still live in Novo Chaplino.
Koonooka isn’t really that far from home, but getting there is tough. The runway on the Russian side often gets fogged in, grounding airplanes in Nome.
As she talked about her family, she stirred the hot, bubbling borscht.
Looking for a fun treat? Try Village-style doughnuts (Bonus points if you find muktuk to eat with them)
In 2015, when I was just starting out my reporting on subsistence food and climate change, I decided to make a trip to Point Hope to attend the whaling feast. I thought I'd set up a place to stay, but then it fell through at the last minute. And I had to get on the plane anyway. And I'll never forget landing, getting out of the plane on a foggy runway, and realizing I had no idea how I was going to get to town from the airport.
But soon someone offered me a ride. And then, soon after that, Aanauraq Lane, or "Aana," adopted me and the photographer I was traveling with, found us a place to stay and invited us in to help her make doughnuts. I spent most of the rest of the trip in kitchens, making doughnuts and then helping with akutuq or akutuuq, and I learned that one way into the history and culture of a small community is through the kitchen.
The resonances between Indigenous art and images captured by microscopes
Rich visual parallels between Indigenous artworks and microscopic natural structures hidden in the world around us reveal unexpected and intriguing similarities that can deepen our respect for our country and its stories.
A new touring exhibition in Sydney, bringing microscopy and Indigenous art together, explores these images, which pass on knowledge and shape our understanding of the world. Their resonances derive from the similar perspectives of the imagery, and symmetries hidden in nature.
The microscopic images (known as micrographs) were captured on transmission electron microscopes, which create enlarged projections of a thin, sample slice and reveal a flat, top-down image, similar to many of the artworks. Another similarity comes from the natural forms and patterns found at the microscopic, landscape and cosmic scale.
In Indigenous cultures, stories shared and held in paintings record how the land and creatures were created, how they function together and how people relate to them.
For researchers, microscopic images reveal the tiniest structural details of the natural world. With experience and the knowledge passed down from previous generations, scientists read these stories and expand our understanding as they strive to answer the question “how and what makes the world function as it does?” (Or, as Goethe wrote in Faust, “how and what holds the world together at its innermost core”.)
Twenty one Indigenous artists from around Australia have created new works for the exhibition that demonstrate a connection between their stories and microscopic images of related parts of our country.