ENAEP

The Eastside Native American Education Program (ENAEP) hosts 75 students making moccasins during its afterschool program held at Lake Washington High School. 

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, one local program in the Woodinville area has already been working to celebrate and educate the community on American Indian culture.

The Eastside Native American Education Program (ENAEP) will welcome Fern Naomi Renville and Roger Fernandes for a night of storytelling via Zoom on Monday, Nov. 15, at 6:30 p.m.

“It’s a month where we can share our culture, our history and share some of our language with others who aren’t Native,” said Mary Wilber, ENAEP Native American education coordinator.

Wilber said the ENAEP serves about 270 students and represents 87 different American Indian and Alaska Native tribes throughout the Northshore, Bellevue and Lake Washington School Districts. The organization provides cultural programming, educational services and ceremonial activities. 

“This program helps bridge and teach cultural ways of doing things with our families,” she said. “Our goal is to have our children graduate from high school and move on into an adult life that they're prepared for and they are connected to their culture.”

Renville and Fernandes will kick off Native American Heritage Month with a few stories that were passed down through generations in their respective tribes. Discussions will follow each story, Wilber said.

“You can learn a lot about Native people through our stories and our ways of doing things,” she said. “Others in our community help teach us important messages that we need to learn and incorporate in our life.”

Wilber said the ENAEP also plans to host an online event on how to make fry bread. The popular Native American bread is typically a round, flat piece of dough fried in oil.

Chef Joseph Newman will lead the class using his own family’s recipe via Zoom as participants follow along from the comfort of their own kitchens, Wilber said. 

While the dough settles, she said, another ENAEP member will read the book “Water Protectors” aloud. The book was inspired by Indigenous-led movements across the United States, she noted. Participants will also have a chance to win the hardcover book by simply listening in.

By the time the story finishes, the dough will be ready to fry. 

“It’s a time to learn and be together as a community, supporting one another and just enjoying time together,” Wilber said.

The event is planned for Monday, Nov. 22, at 6:30 p.m. To participate in either activity, contact Mary Wilber for the Zoom link at mwilber@lwsd.org

According to the American Library Association, the federal government recognizes 29 American Indian tribes in Washington state. While the Duwamish, Wanapum and Chinook tribes are not recognized by the government, they have a long history in the state.

For those wanting other ways to celebrate Native American Heritage Month, Wilber suggests visiting the Public Broadcasting Service channel to view documentaries on American Indian history relating to boarding schools, reservations and cultural traditions. The National Museum of the American Indian website also provides accurate information, she said.

“If people are looking for ways to celebrate [Native American Heritage Month] and they only have an evening or an hour, they can go to PBS, or the Smithsonian website, and read an article,” Wilber said. “That would be a great starting point.”

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