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


AIR Summer Program 2014

AIR Programs has a strong philosophy of following American Indian content based instruction within our program.  We believe native students fail to be interested in academics where it is based not within their communities or cultural identity.  Therefore, by offering American Indian content we incorporate our students, cultural understanding into an overall learning environment where they are motivated to learn and be a part of program. 

Were many follow this to some extent, we also believe that we must be aware of this ideal and apply it locally, as this is the environment that we live in.  This summer’s topic was native foods.  Food is one of the foundational components in most American Indian cultures. Great credence is givingin customs, religious practices, and identity among our Tribal Nations in reference to food and related areas.  Time for planting, cultivating, and hunting form whom we are as Native people and in combination of local ideals have worked with those within this region to look at food and our Native Cultures.


AIR Torrey Pines AIR Expo

Meeting 1 (SDSU-AIR Start)

AIR Campus Tour

Meeting 1: San Diego State University
Culture and Community

Welcome to SDSU

During our first meeting of the summer we introduced our host university and our topic.

Familiarity with the university setting is hard. Drop out rates occur in higher percentages during the first year of school. Some indicators tend to point to the university setting as unfamiliar and harsh environment to students coming from smaller communities that would have the student seeking to leave after their first few weeks at school. Here, we have an opportunity to have our mentors show them around, explaining what they are experiancing there, what they have found to cope within the university and having them know what the SDSU campus can offer.
These campus tours are mentor led and are in the character of a scavenger hunt where they get some experiance in exploring it themselves but with help from our mentors.

AIR First Group Shot
AIR Shopping
SDSU Library
Exploring AIS Dept
Campus Tour

SDSU Library

Meeting 2 (Rock Climbing)

Meeting 2: Solid Rock Gym

Our first meeting was the introduction of our topic and familiarizing our students with the campus. The second meeting was designed to get our students familiar with each other. Here our students got to know each other and our mentors through team work exercises found during climbing.

With so few native people identified in our schools this is a great opportunity to have them meet each other and develope their network so that they can support one another.

Finally, it's just fun to get out and climb!

Group Shot
the Climb
Guiding and Watching
Climbing to the top
Hanging on
Meeting 3 (Ballard Center, San Diego)
Workshop at Ballard

Meeting 3: At Ballard Center/Title VII Programs

We try to include many things in our meetings. Here, we inintiated a mini-workshop that covered the overall “game plan” where our students learned about requirements they must have to qualify for the UC or CSU system. Generally, taught by administrators but what we ask is that our college mentors explain this as they have the most recent knowledge on what they did to get in.
The second portion of our meeting was on our "Foods" topic. We brought in Kristy Orosco (former Director of the San Pasqual Environmental Program) to discuss local plants and their significance significance within Kumeyaay Culture (local tribes). Chia seeds, willow, and acorn all have significant cultural and material importance within the Kumeyaay culture. Acorn to eat but willow and various plants have basketmaking importance for developing the acorn as edibal foods. We thank Kristy for coming down to work with our students!

Conference Room
Guest Presenter
More Presentations

More Presentation

Meeting 4 (Barona Musuem)    
Barona Group Shot
Meeting 4: The Barona Museum

First we thank O’Jay Vanegas, Cheryl Hinton and the Barona Musuem Staff for allowing us to tour the Museum. We originally intended to view the baskets and tools that allow the local tribes to develop their foods. This was defined in our previous meeting but in order to understand this we wanted more of idea on the baskets and how the materials were cultivated from local plants and to understand the leaching process for acorn.

However, we had a great opportunity in having them show us how the museum archives and preserves many of the materials there and how they share and work with many of the regional Tribes on numerous cultural projects.

Again, thank you to the Barona Tribe and Musuem for this!


Introductions Noel
Meeting 5 (Ballard Center, San Diego)
Meeting 5: Ballard Center and Title VII Programs

At the Ballard Center we had two things to do. The first is another academic workshop on career and degree development and the second was to develop some food based on locally grown foods.
Our workshop, was to get our students to start thinking about professions and how it related to higher education. Many of our students had some idea on this but needed additional information on how higher education played a role in this. This is where workshops like this become important.
Our second portion of our meeting was in developing foods from local foods. Well, we decided on smoothies mixed in with local fruits and seeds. It was a a hot day and smoothies seem like a great idea on a healthy mix of modern and native plant based foods.

Group Workshops
Guest Lecturer
Blending Natural Foods
Blending Natural Foods
Juice It
Meeting 6 (San Pasqual Ed Center)    
Meeting 6: San Pasqual Education Center

Again utilizing our partnered programs we visited the San Pasqual Education Center (Based out of the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indian Tribe). Working with Jacob Alvarado we were able to learn more about the Kumeyaay Culture from the San Pasqual Tribe. We were greatful to learn about the Kumeyaay culture from the San Pasqual viewpoint as some of our students (who are Kumeyaay from other local Tribal Reservations) participated in their Birdsinging portion of their summer program.

We also had an opportunity to work with Armondo who showed us how they made pottery. We finally ended the day with a game of shini (stick ball). We thank Lorraine Orosco (Education Center Director) for allowing our visit and having our Native youth learn more about the Kumeayy culture through song, dance and also to share the company of each other.


Bird Dancers
Pottery Making
Pottery Curing
Meeting 7 (Torrey Pines)
M7 at Torrey Pines
Meeting 7: Torrey Pines

Native American culture has many avenues into science. Torrey Pines is an excellent location where we can examine the environment that local Tribes located their summer villages. This area was chosen by local Tribes due to the rich in a variety of foods with a moderate climate which is ideal for living in the summer months.
Since we learned about local plants (Acorn and the overall process); we asked "Where do acorns grow and under which type of climate?" Here we looked at locations that have oak trees grew, what type of oak trees are there, and what is effecting them in San Diego County.
Finally, we had had a workshop on oceanic pollution. This is in line of our workshop on careers, here, our mentor Alterra, ran a workshop on pollution and how it effects our oceans. She is a Science Major and works with many marine biologist so it was great to find out how this profession works in preserving our oceans through the testing of the water and how we can think about this as a profession.
Finally, we got to go to the beach!

On the Trail at TP
Observing Plants
testing of water
Testing for water
Pacific Ocean and AIR
At the beach
Meeting 8 Augua Caliente
Meeting 8: Business Competition

The AIR Program will participate in a collaborative program with the American Indian Chamber of Commerce in the upcoming future and this was a sort of a pilot run for our program and AICC Business Expo. Although this is not a direct area of our understanding of indigenous food but it does fit within our understanding of Native Nation Building.

Our students participated in the AICC program and devloping business presentations. We are proud that some of our students were on the winning teams. Thank you Tracy Stanhoff for al your support on this.

Lunch with professionals
Meeting 9 Last Meeting
Wild Animal Park
Meeting 9:San Diego Wild Animal Park

At the end of our program we like to find something fun to do and this summer we chose the WIld Animal Park. We chose this as Kristy Orosco has a Kumeyaay presentation there on the topic that she presented to our program. In all we had a great summer and we thank everyone who helped us on this program.

We especially thank the Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians for supporting our program!

Kristy O informaiton
White Oaks tiger
last hike
Last Group Shot