Wrapping up training and my necklace

It’s hard to believe that three days have already flown by here in Reno, NV.  Our class has been progressing very well and has surpassed many expectations.  We’ve made great new friends and enjoyed some very enlightening conversations.  I’m happy that we still have a few more days to spend helping each other learn.

A new classroom layout

Today in class we surprised everyone when they arrived by having the tables reconfigured from classroom seating in rows to a “U” shaped layout with two small rows of tables in the middle.  We explained that as instructors, they will need to make sure they are providing an atmosphere that encourages learning and the way the classroom is layout has an impact on that.  Once we got underway, we covered several areas, including the following:

Managing the classroom – we spent a lot of time talking about how to teach to different generations.

Disaster psychology – students reminded each other to consider tribal elders and tribal medicine men as helpful resources.


Bringing it all together, and

Another teach back!

Adult learners are motivated to learn

Native American culture

Today, I had the honor of spending time with one of the students after class and learning more about his tribal ancestors and culture, which I want to share with you now.  His ancestors are part of the Coastal Mewuk tribe which is not one of the 109 federally recognized tribes in California.  More specifically, his tribe ancestors were located in the area of Tomales Bay.  Unfortunately, his tribe almost became extinct.  Although he was raised in a non-Native American culture, he is reconnecting with his culture and hopes to re-establish family in the Tomales Bay area.

He works for the Inter-Tribal Council of California which is the largest inter-tribal organization in California.  Interestingly, there are other similar Councils across the nation.  One of the functions the Council oversees is a grant to fund emergency preparedness training among their tribal partners.  Some of the training they are supporting includes Incident Command System (ICS), National Incident Management System (NIMS), and Community Emergency Management Team (CERT).

What drew my interest to this gentleman today was that before class started he was in the back of the room with abalone shells laid out on the table and was making necklaces as gifts to his fellow students.  He later explained to me that the abalone shells have always been important (sacred) to his ancestors and other tribes as well.  They believed their dreams were held in the shells.   He didn’t realize this until after he had been walking on the shoreline one day collecting them and subsequently did some research. Now, in hind sight, he feels he was drawn to their beauty just as his ancestors were.  A familiar connection!  Since then he walks along the beach, and singing “Gathering” songs, looks for abalone shells.  Once gathered, he brings them home and cleans them by rubbing them with sage and then drills a small hole in them.  Through the drilled hole he runs a piece of string to make the necklace.  The string he uses is store bought but it’s wrapped around a piece of crystal stone.  The purpose of the stone is to help purify the string.

My abalone necklace and a piece of "Osha" or "Bear" root

As he presented me with my necklace, he offered a prayer that the receiver (me) will remember the ocean (giver of life) and the dreams of my ancestors and weave those dreams into the fabric of my life.  And all of this is done in an effort to help preserve his culture.  As a way of saying “thank you” I wanted to shake his hand.  Our handshake was not the usual hand to hand shake I’m used to.  Instead, his hand grabbed my forearm, and mine naturally grabbed his.

Before I left, I told him I had noticed a subtle herbal smell while we were talking and asked what it was.  He informed me it was “osha root” which might also be called “bear root” or “bitter root”.  They are all part of the wild celery family.  The native belief is that when the sleeping bear awakes from hibernation, he eats “bear root” to shock his system to get it going again after a long sleep.  In life, it’s used to fight the common cold, and as a cleanser when in a tea.  Another plant that’s similar is “Angelica”.  My friend offered me a piece of “osha root” to try, and it does smell and taste like celery.

What a great way to end another very productive day.  So until tomorrow when we start a new CERT Program Manager class, be safe a please come back.


One Response to Wrapping up training and my necklace

  1. Rick Bozada says:

    Thanks for the great read. Keep up the good work.

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