IndigeSpirit: Inspiring Students Through Spokane Tribal History

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Geri Flett (Spokane Tribal Member) is a history teacher at Wellpinit Middle School, located on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Eastern Washington. “I’ve been teaching for 35 years, and this has by far been the most difficult year. We service approximately 350 students, and of those only 25% have internet service. So, that makes online learning difficult.” To accommodate all of her students, Geri has been sending home packets on a weekly basis. Packets are created and available for pickup at the school every Wednesday. Geri describes the weekly scene: “It is really quite the dance. Cars coming and going, teachers hollering “I miss you’s.” Kids and parents waving goodbye as they drive away for the week. Students who may not have transportation of their parents are essential workers will have their packets delivered to them. Talk about service!” 

She has also been engaging her students by posing weekly questions about tribal history with the first student to answer correctly winning a prize. “I’m trying to make sure everyone gets a chance to feel good about getting the prize, but to feel proud that (they) know (their) tribal history.” Previous questions include: 

  • Which president signed the Executive Order creating our reservation and in what year?
  • Name our tribal council
  • What plant did our people use for colds, coughing, and stuffy noses? Send a picture of the plant, the name, and what it is used for.

Her words of encouragement are truly beautiful, uplifting, and needed: “Be flexible, these are extraordinary times that we are living in… We are paving the road for the future. Let’s make sure that we are documenting everything that is happening in our communities. When we begin retelling the story of this time, let’s make sure they don’t forget us… journal, document, remember. Our children are resilient. Love them and remember to love yourself. This is a great time to really get to know our families. They need us, and in all reality, I need them.”

Thank you, Geri, for cherishing and inspiring your students during this time.