San Ildefonso Day School holds first Cultural Day celebration

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Tewa language program teaches Pueblo's traditions.

By Arin McKenna

San Ildefonso Day School hosted family and community members for a Cultural Day celebration last Thursday. The children not only presented their skills in the Tewa language and traditional dances, they shared bread, cookies and fruit pies they had cooked in an horno (adobe oven) the day before at a traditional luncheon for community members.

"This is a day of celebration for our youth and young adults here at the school," said Tewa language instructor and tribal council member Tim Martinez. "This is something that we teach our young children. It's about our way of life, the songs and the dance that we do here."

The celebration is an outgrowth of a Tewa language program instituted in the fall of 2012.

The pueblo's Learning Center sought grants from the tribal council, the Administration for Native Americans, the Chamisa Foundation and some smaller funding sources. The goal is to revitalize San Ildefonso's language, culture and our heritage.

Martinez and Rose Sanchez teach the program three mornings a week. In addition to teaching the K–6 grade students the pueblo's traditional Tewa language, Martinez and Sanchez arrange special projects such as learning the dances or making moccasins, take the children on field trips and bring in guest speakers.

The first community event was held at Christmas, with Tewa songs and a Tewa Christmas celebration.

The program has also partners with the pueblo's senior center.

"We have lunch with them and share all our activities, so it's really brought in all these other opportunities," Principal Dolores Guzman said. "And the seniors just love being with the kids and talking with them. We assign a kid to a senior, then we sit around and chat and enjoy each other."

"The kids are beginning to understand and to take pride, in that they're allowed to be who they are here," Guzman continued. "It's kind of grown from just one little thing to just blossoming. So we hope that we can continue. There's all kinds of things to still explore. It's exciting, the kind of movement we've got going here."

Look for more photos in the multimedia section of the Los Alamos Monitor webpage.