AIR Tutorial AIR Birch A  

"Our mission is the promotion and success of American Indians within education."


AIR Fall 2012

Exploring our Native Culture and History through Photography

This fall, we introduced the topic of photography as a means to explore our Native identity, past and present. Students learned the basics of photography and had the opportunity to take and capture (photograph) something of importance to them and their communities.
Using the Davis Project as a backdrop to our "Native Communities through Photos" concept we had local elders come in to speak about the historical significance of some of the photos from the project and Museum of Man archivists that explained what’s involved in using photos as historical documents which including various concepts of cataloging process and research.
Througout the program we visited the SDSU library, where mentors guided our students through research methodology while investigating the photos and their context. Using this topic as a foundation, our students became familiar with the college setting, were exposed to campus life, hear personal stories from college mentors, learned about the research process, the art of public speaking, and most importantly, the importance of understanding people and places from our Native history.

Group Shot M1
Meeting 1 (Solid Rock Gym)

Solid Rock Gym

For our first meeting, we went to the Solid Rock Gym in Old Town. In our overall experience we have found that we must first get to know one another, and build our community within the program.
Therefore, at this meeting we had the opportunity to get to know one another through rock climbing. Students and mentors split into pairs and took turns guiding one another up the climbing wall. These teamwork activities are so important because they help both students and mentors break out of their shells, make friendships, and gain self-esteem. We have found that when students become confident in themselves, they are more inclined to excel in academics and pursue higher education.

Mantor and Student
The Climb
Large Rom
Meeting 2 (USD)

Part of what we are attempting to do is give students academic workshops that prepare them for college therefore we give academic worskshops to give them what some schools are failing to give them to prepare them for college. Our first workshop is as follows:

  • Academic Workshop: Getting into College—What are the steps and requirements?
    This workshop covered the “game plan” students must have to qualify for the UC or CSU system. Mentors will go over the A-G requirements—the courses required in high school to qualify for a UC or CSU school. They will also share personal stories, strategies and tips on preparing for college.

Introduction to Photography and the Davis Project: We’ll learned the basics of photography and discuss how pictures, when taken well, can tell a story and share a deeper meaning. We briefly introduce the Davis Project, what it is and why it’s relevant to Native communities. Finally, as an exercise, students will find out just what’s involved in taking a picture —is it really as easy as point and shoot?

USD Campus
USD Soccer
Sunset in San Diego
Meeting 3 (USD)
Group Instruction

During this meeting we looked at our previous pictures (we took pictures in groups within our last meeting of the campus) and attempted to extract why we took them and their meaning. Many times pictures come from the photographers perception, which is important to understand when we look at historical pictures and what the photographer is attempting to tell us.

Academic Workshop: Majors and Career Exploration
How do you know what major to choose? What are the careers that you can explore? Mentors will share how they decided what to major in and their career plans.

Davis Project: Students got the opportunity to look at copies of pictures that have historical and cultural significance to the Southern California tribes. With the help of their mentors, they will try to un-cover the story within each picture.

group shot
Outside Sunset
Meeting 4 (SDSU)    
SDSU Library

SDSU AIR Program:

At this meeting we ask the mentors worked with the students on doing research of the region and with the pictures in mind. Mentors and students went through the SDSU library for the purpose of research but also so that the students could overcome their fear of a vast and big library (its easy to get lost), to share research methodology, and to start a research assignment. We realize that it is impossible to have great research in 1.5 hours but this is more than research as we give them acclimation to the higher educational environment through this portion of the program.

Break and Instructions Before
Break and Instructions
Meeting 5 (USD)

In Meeting 5 we began to bring in local community and elders into our program to discuss how photos can be used as documents in discovering our past.This meeting we brought in a curator from the Musuem of Man to discuss this topic.

Academic Workshop 4: Finances and financial aid/scholarships
In this workshop, mentors will discuss how they got the money to pay for college, if they received financial aid or scholarships and how they managed their expenses dur-ing school.

Community Lecturer: From the Musuem of Man, San Diego, to discuss the revelence of the pictures from the past, how they are taken in into the Musuem and Catalogue.

Guest Speaker From MOM
Discussion groups
Discussion Group
Meeting 6 (USD)    
GS Devon

Meeting 6 we had guest speakers from the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel and the Barona Band of Mission Indians discussing culture and how pictures have shed great information on current issues. These issues could inlcude Tribal boundries or locations that are historically relevant to the local tribes, enrollment, and family histories.

GS Larry
Group discussion  
Group Discussion
Meeting 7 (USD)
  Here we are finally nearing the end of our program but one of the most important aspects of our program occur here. We gather all the information we have here and have our students create a presentation on what they learned. This aspect recounts all we learned, their interpretation, develops a presentation (with the aid of our mentors) and gives them public speaking skills. All of these leads to create leaders within our progam that can learn and then take what they learn to discuss the importance of what they learned, in this case our past.
Meeting 8 Last meeting of the Year
Welcoming 20 years

We have learned many things in the last 20 years of community service. But foremost is that our Native children can compete with the best given the opportunity. We would further say that all children should be given that opportunity to reach their greatest potential where they can all thrive and help our society become a greater place.
We have met many great students and have become friends within a long stream of AIR Program projects participants and it makes us better to realize that our program boils down to students reaching their potential and creating lasting friendships.

On the last day of our program we had our students present their work and offered our awards to them. We are so happy to enjoy them in our program and to have them get started on the journey towards reaching their potential.

meeting prep
Presentation 1
Presentation 2
Presntation 4