Ashiwi College and Career Readiness Center takes a community-based approach

Center establishing itself as an instructional site with Navajo Technical University

Hayes Lewis shakes hands with Tina Bowannie of Zuni, New Mexico after Bowannie earned a certificate for completing a two-day workshop on 3D printing. As part of the workshop, Bowannie was able to model a balloon-powered car and a two story house. (Photo/Navajo Technical University)

Hayes Lewis shakes hands with Tina Bowannie of Zuni, New Mexico after Bowannie earned a certificate for completing a two-day workshop on 3D printing. As part of the workshop, Bowannie was able to model a balloon-powered car and a two story house. (Photo/Navajo Technical University)

ZUNI, N.M. — Navajo Technical University’s (NTU) Zuni instructional site located at the A:shiwi College and Career Readiness Center (ACCRC) has taken a community-based approach in reestablishing itself within the region since ending its collaboration with the University of New Mexico in 2018.

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Pamela Pickens of El Morro, New Mexico gives a lecture on medicinal plants and their use in lotions, salves and tinctures. (Photo/Navajo Technical University)

As part of this approach, the Zuni site has engaged a wide array of regional partners and has focused on hosting community-centered events that promote a cross section of cultures that increase knowledge and understanding.

A Zuni Language and Culture Symposium was hosted at the ACCRC in June that welcomed Trisha Moquino of the Keres Children’s Learning Center and the 2017-2018 Miss Zuni Kenzi Bowekaty.

The event featured a dance group performance and attendees were provided a traditional Zuni meal. Most recently, the instructional site played host to a two-day 3D printing camp conducted by the Ke’yah Advanced Rural Manufacturing Alliance, as well as a one-day workshop on medicinal plants and their use in lotions, salves, and tinctures by Pamela Pickens of Inscription Rock Trading in El Morro, New Mexico.

The medicinal plants workshop was part of a series of agriculture workshops scheduled by the ACCRC through a BIA-Zuni agency grant that will also establish a community demonstration garden at the instructional site. Other workshops conducted under the grant have focused on fruit tree grafting, pruning and orchard management, as well as soil regeneration using natural strategies. The remaining workshops will include an introduction to beekeeping on July 19, composting using the Johnson-Su Bioreactor method on July 26, and seed saving and traditional Zuni gardening Aug. 2

“We took the lead from the council and other community members to re-establish traditional indigenous planting and farming,” explained Hayes Lewis, director of A:shiwi College. “[The demonstration garden] is going to be the center where we reintroduce ways of planting and propagation of plants, and on the culture side, to reestablish the important connections between the humans, plants, Mother Earth, and the environment in ways that aren’t presently taught in most schools.”

NTU’s Zuni instructional site enrolled 25 students during the spring semester, a number NTU is hoping to quadruple by fall semester. As Lewis works with NTU in increasing its student enrollment, the community is embracing the tribe’s advocacy and the opportunities for higher education.

“We want people to know that education doesn’t just end at grade 12,” explained Lewis, who worked at the Institute of American Indian Art for 10 years as the director for the Center for Lifelong Education and as an adjunct faculty member before serving as the Superintendent of Schools at Zuni from 2012-2016. “Connecting with NTU really shows and demonstrates that indigenous people can decide what education can mean from our own tribal perspectives and take a path that will be more holistic and more supportive of our communities.”

In addition to the remaining agriculture workshops, the ACCRC will be hosting the 2019 Zuni: Empowering Teachers and Community (ZETAC) Summer Institute from July 22-24, 2019.

The institute is open to the community and will include presentations on holistic models of health, creating an artisan cooperative, and decolonizing the way we plant among other topics.

NTU’s Zuni instructional site will also host a registration rally on July 31st for anyone wanting more information about applying at NTU. Advisors, admissions staff, and financial aid counselors will all be in attendance.

More information about NTU’s instructional site in Zuni or the remaining summer events is available by contacting Reynelle Lowsayatee at reynelle.lowsayatee@ashiwi.org or Vanessa Sandoval at vanessa.sandoval@ashiwi.org.

Information provided by Navajo Technical University

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