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Students honor elders as local heroes

Early College of the Redwoods students work with elementary children to create cards in appreciation of their elders. (Submitted Photo).
Early College of the Redwoods students work with elementary children to create cards in appreciation of their elders. (Submitted Photo).

By Cornelia de Bruin

Triplicate staff writer

A group of Early College of the Redwoods students want to honor their tribe's elders by publicly recognizing them for their contributions.

Some of the elders have served in the military. Others are being honored for a variety of reasons, including how they have touched the students' lives.

"They have fought for us, so that we have our fishing rights," student Colin Latulippe said.

The class intends to contact more than two dozen tribal elders to learn from them and to hear about their contributions first-hand.

"We've been working about four weeks, but the whole project will take about two months," Latulippe said. "We have called on about six or seven elders so far."

A June 29 presentation is planned for the elders. Each will be given a plaque and publicly honored.

On the class' list for the "Local Heroes" project are between 25 and 30 names, but finding some of the people is proving problematic, the students said.

Amber Gensaw, Latulippe's classmate, said she's received good feedback on the project from her grandmother.

"My grandma told me that it's a good thing our parents are teaching us this way," Gensaw said. "She said it's how her parents taught her."

Latulippe gave a case in point that agrees with Gensaw's grandmother.

"The first time I went killing, I went with an elder who taught me," he said. "He showed me how to catch a fish and get the roe, and how to skin a deer and cut the meat in slabs."

The students' teacher, Brandon Yost, said that several students talked with an elder for a couple hours Thursday. The discussion was about how to make a feather bed.

Several of the students worked with children from kindergarten through fifth grade at Margaret Keating School Friday.

The children took turns dipping their hands in paint, making hand prints on sheets of paper and making cards to give the elders.

Joshua Norris quizzed them about whom their heroes are.

"They each had one, too," he said. "Every kid knew who his hero was."

As the project moves forward, the students are learning photography so that they can capture their elders' images on film for everyone to see.

The photos will be put up in the Yurok Tribal Administration office with information about each elder.

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