Native American Multi-cultural Education School, Inc.

Native American Multi-cultural Education School, Denver
"This outlook, this method, this growth environment--has a track record
recognized by local and national experts.... It produces results
." - Lynda Nuttall
How you can help
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Morning Star Way

The heart of NAMESí approach to education and leadership is the Morning Star Medicine Wheel of Learning, a value-based concept. This concept blends the principles of traditional Native American philosophy with adult learning theory to help students learn how to address the complex needs of contemporary society.

The Morning Star Medicine Wheel of Learning was inspired by a Lakota star quilt that was made by a studentís mother. At the center of this quilt is the Medicine Wheel with its Four Directions of east, south, west, and north, representing the four races (black, yellow, red, and white) as well as the four stages of an individualís life journey (illumination, innocence, introspection, and empowerment). Emanating from the Medicine Wheel is the eight-pointed Morning Star whose eight points represent eight values common to cultural traditions around the world: respect, truth, honesty, humility, humor, compassion, wisdom, and love. From these principles, we are developing a values-based, multi-cultural curriculum to help our students gain a perspective on how academic subjects can be used in making everyday professional and personal decisions.

S- Innocence W - Introspection E - Illumination N - Empowerment

 

Truth Honesty Humor Wisdom Love Respect Humility Compassion

For example, from the circle of life, which is the Medicine Wheel, teach strategies for personal growth, cooperation, teamwork, and leadership. Stories from the eight points of the Morning Star (respect, truth, honesty, humility, humor, compassion, wisdom, and love) provide creative, practical, and humorous applications of knowledge gained from many cultures around the world. The Four Directions of the Medicine Wheel provide a framework for problem-solving and leadership development. Each direction corresponds to a stage in lifeís journey as well as to specific stages in problem solving.

  • The East Direction is the direction of illumination and new beginnings. When students work here on correct diagnosis of educational and life-skill needs, grade level assessment, issues of respect and self-esteem, as well as understanding the special skills, talents and cultural heritage, which each student brings to the school.
  • The South Direction is the direction of innocence and new vision. We work with students on developing their goals, objectives and individual learning plans, based on their vision of the future. This is done with the traditional meaning of humility, the sense of their interdependence with family and friends.
  • The West Direction is the direction of introspection. It is also the place where reality and vision can collide. Using the value of compassion, we work with students to develop reasonable strategies for achieving their educational goals.
  • The North Direction is the direction of wisdom and accountability. This is the direction where students celebrate their accomplishments and learn to apply their learning in various areas of leadership. Truth is an important value at this stage.

To date, three Morning Star initiatives have been successfully implemented and NAMES plans to continue on with additional curriculum development and activity-based projects over the next five years. Current works that have been successfully implemented include:

  • Creation of a Code of Ethics for the organization and students, based on the eight values.
  • The Medicine Wheel Writing Program
  • The Morning Star Medicine Wheel Peace Garden (funded by the Denver Urban resources Partnerships and designed by Denver Urban Gardens).

Additionally, NAMES was able to secure funding for part of a special Morning Star art project to enlist the extraordinary talent of local muralist, Carlotta Espinoza. This noted artist began work with NAMES students to create a series of multi-cultural works tied back to the Morning Star. These works related to the Morning Star-- as a basis on which to build and strengthen our learning environment and thus our communities.

NAMES knows that art and values-based learning go hand in hand and are integral parts of a healthy culture and community. Many of our students come from backgrounds of poverty and other high-risk socioeconomic factors. In order to help them, we know that one of the main things we have to do is to help them get back their sense of imagination. Before people can feel empowered to take action in changing their lives, they must be able to imagine other alternatives. With education and imagination, they can then move forward in a good way, making grounded choices about their future.

If you are interested in helping NAMES as we move forward along on our path in developing additional Morning Star tools and activities, click HERE to review some of the opportunities we have available. Please also check back periodically, because we are always adding new opportunities. You can also contact Lynda Nuttall directly at 303-934-0028, or via email at names_inc@qwest.net, if you have additional questions.

The Morning Star Medicine Wheel of Learning is all about the world of alternatives, the making of choices, and the resulting forward movement. In this way, we continue on observantly walking with open eyes.

 

Morning Star Medicine Wheel Peace Garden

The Morning Star Peace Garden is a community garden project created and built through a collaborative effort between the Native American Multi-cultural Education School and Denver Urban Gardens. The uniqueness of the garden comes from not only the shape of the centerpiece design, but from its peaceful effect on the students of the school. The garden is rendered in the shape of the Morning Star Medicine Wheel, with flowers and foliage making up the nine different colors of the star points and the interior of the medicine wheel. The star itself measures approximately 35 feet by 20 feet, a beautiful space where there was once only asphalt and barren earth.

Although the build of the centerpiece design created the heart of the Peace Garden, our work has only just begun. In addition to the annual replanting and spring work on the existing star area, this year we are planning to chip away at more of the old asphalt around the sides of the star (currently covered with gravel) and to further develop the space with flowers and greenery throughout the coming months. The garden is currently without benches or surrounding plants or greenery, but we hope to soon make it into an even more beautiful and welcoming place where students and visitors can find peace and strength.


Peace
Garden Layout
Peace Garden


If you would like to contribute to the Morning Star Medicine Wheel Garden development, please review our garden wish list items in the YOU CAN HELP section or contact Lynda Nuttall at 303-934-0028.

 

CONTACTS: Director, Lynda Nuttall 303-934-8086, or
call 303-934-0028.
Send email to names_inc@qwest.net

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