AIR Tutorial AIR Birch A  

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


AIR Summer Program 2012

This summer, we introduced the topic of Cultural Preservation. Our Native Communities are rich in history, traditions and culture but when denied cultural items of historic significance, where rock art and petroglyphs are vandalized, or where our sacred sites are paved over for the progress of others then we lose part of our history and culture. As future leaders, students must understand these ideals of our past that validates our being in the present and carries us into the future as Tribal Nations.
To understand this topic we will cover concepts of cultural artifacts and their significance, legal concepts of some laws designed to protect Native Culture, and current issues within Indian Country. Using this topic as a basis, our students, in addition to this exciting topic, we will learn about our universities and campus libraries, teach research methodology from our mentors, learn how to make effective presentations, and learn more about these issues affecting our communities. Overall, we hope you find great interest on this topic.

Group Shot
Meeting 1 (SDSU-AIR Start)

Teamwork Exercise

Meeting 1: San Diego State University
Culture and Community

Overall we believe that a person with stronger cultural identity is more inclined to be empowered to excel in academics and in their personal lives. Cultural identity comes in many forms, it comes from our ceremonies, cultural artifacts, prayer, and much more.  In the case of Indian Country it also comes from family and community. In an effort to create our community we started our program to introduce our students and mentors to each other through a series teamwork exercises that will continue throughout the summer. Sometimes these methods don’t have to be fancy but do have to have the ideals friendships and motivation to accomplish our community and the beginning of friendships with one another.

Teamwork exercise
Tower execise
HS Group
Little Nations
Cups falling
Meeting 2 (SDSU-Aquaplex)



Meeting 2: San Diego State University: AquaPlex
Culture / Science and Design

Many times non-natives considered our Tribes as primitive and without science or the ability to be industrious therefore it is easy for the non-native community to take away or destroy our sacred sites or cultural items. But when you think of the great accomplishments throughout our present country, Native Americans have contributed many great innovations to the world as well as their philosophies. 
Within this meeting we wanted to see how hard it was to do many of the things that our ancestors had accomplished and therefore we attempted to create boats that many of our inland and coastal Tribes had accomplished. In all honesty, it is hard to do this. Of all boats designed only one was able to float and carry a person.
Contributions of our ancestors in boating design in only one of many great contributions that Native Americans have given to our society. To realize that astronomy, pueblos, farming and more are some of the great contributions that have made our Tribal Nations rich in both history and culture.

Boat design 1
Boating Group SD
Baoting Group Wingman
Group Christy
Winning Boat
Sinking Feeling
Group Shot
Meeting 3 (Museum of Man)
Norhtern Baskets
Meeting 3: Museum of Man
Culture and Historical Artifacts

Working with the Museum of Man at Balboa Park, we had one of the greatest opportunities to view many Native American artifacts that are being held in the archive rooms at the museum. We were given a tour of how these items are archived, laws that they comply with, upkeep of items, and more.
The importance here was to show that Native Americans have a past and that items here often predates many of the notions that Native Americans had no origins here. It is important to have these items kept and preserved to show our communities (both Native and Non-native) that we do have a history and that we (as other cultures) have definitive artifacts that prove our origin from this region and validates us in the context of hard evidence of our existence.  But along with this, we must also make sure that our historical artifacts still belong to us and that they are respected and returned if they hold significant meaning.
In Archive Room
Begining of tour
More Archive Room
Cool Exhibit
Fun at the Skateboard exihibit
Ancient Tools  
In the Morning shot
Kumeyaay Exhibit
Meeting 4 (SDSU-Academic Prep)    
AIR Sum12 M4 Tight Squeeze
Meeting 4: San Diego State University
Academics and College

Our program was started with the ideals of promoting higher education and change within the ideals of our students so that they will include higher education in their future plans. We believe that each of our students can compete with the best at the university level and can someday bring those tools of knowledge back to our communities to make our Tribal Nations stronger.
At this meeting we continued our teamwork exercises and included academic workshops to give our students the ideals on what they need to complete at the high school level to qualify for our UC and CSU systems.  Included at this meeting we had representatives from the University of Redlands assisting and presenting our workshops to help us in our efforts.  We are truly thankful for their participation.

Mentors and Students
Socialization Exercise
Univ. Redlands Workshop
Little Nations Workshop
Exercise 2
University of Redlands workshop 2
Meeting 5 (La Jolla Shore Caverns)
Meeting 5: La Jolla Shores and Submerged Sites
Culture and our Native Lands

Culture has many areas and to lose any of these parts means a loss of our cultural identity. Culture includes our traditions, families, ceremonies, our understanding of our environment and where we live.

At this meeting we went to the La Jolla Shores Underwater Park & Ecological Reserve where this reserve is a protected waterway where long ago Kumeyaay villages existed and now holds numerous artifacts of the Kumeyaay Nation that are now submerged. Working with envoronmentalist, many cultural preservationist worked to protect this region from development and looting by divers. The combination of these two groups now preserves a part of Native lands that have belonged to the Kumeyaay long before the first Europeans landed within the region.

In all this kayaking event for our program was more than what our expectations could have imagined.

La Jolla Caves
Take Off
Team 1
in the ocean
Out in the Ocean
Meeting 6 (SDSU-Values and NAGPRA)    
Value Explanation
Meeting 6: Culture and Values/NAGPRA

At this meeting we were going to have a Lacrosse demonstration but as the meeting progressed it took another direction. To understand culture we have to understand that it contains many avenues that include historic artifacts, our ceremonies, traditions and family. So in our workshop to understand what we hold important to us, we looked more into our own values and in turn more on our cultural values that hold significant importance to us. We did this by using the historic egg drop and how we protect it from breaking. Like our own cultures that we hold with great care we examined how are we going to protect it. Each group symbolically held that egg and gave it what values they wanted to see in it. Many, if not all, related their values to their cultures and how to protect it. Once we defined our values then we wrapped the heck out of it. Most was successful and one was subject to closer examination. In the end this led to a greater discussion of NAGPRA and understanding how important this law is to our Tribal Nations.

Value drop
Group Golden Egg
Egg Groups
Egg Development
Meeting 7 (Torrey Pines)
Blue Group on Peak
Meeting 7: Culture and Environment

Environment dictates how we live, so in harsher environments they live differently than what people live in more abundant claimants. Torrey Pines was one of the locations that the Kumeyaay had villages in and at the visitors center (at the upper location) there is a section on how they lived in this region. The main purpose here was to give the example of a location in which tribal people once had lived in, to take hikes on the plant life that grew here, and to end up at the beach to jump in the ocean (and after the hike this was the first thing we did).

starting off
Ca Shoreline
Student on the peak
AIR at the Beach
Group Shot
Meeting 8: Understanding Culture

We can learn many things through standard learning practices such as classroom lectures, however, to have it really take hold in our minds we attempted to live through what we have been learning about through theatre. We divided up our program into small groups to present a live version of a cultural issue and how would deal with it. With the help of Native American Monitors and our mentors we presented an array of solutions from our student groups. Oscars will be given out later. Overall, we thank all our students participants as we had one of the greatest summers yet and more importantly we met new friends. As for cultural preservation we learned alot and we created our own culturally based community of Native Youth, this summer. Thank you to all our community partners for making this summer possible.

Group at SDSU
Group 1
Group 3
Group 3
group 2
Meeting 9 Last Field Trip of Fun!
Last group shot
Meeting 9:Last Meeting of Fun

We cannot state how much fun we had this summer and how much we learned. Culture is everywhere and exists in both our cultural artifcats and ceremonies and it also exists in our people and our communities. Our greatest strength is our people and when they come together as a community we are as strong as ever. Although some of our meetings were modified we learned so much and most of all we learned that we created our own cultural community here in our AIR Program.

Thank you to all our community partners, mentors, parents, and San Diego State University Dept. of American Studies for their support.

Group 1
Indian Country Map
Driving records
group 5
Tongva Lands