Huellas del Pasado ... Footprints from the Past
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  For every famous literary and photographic work, there are hundreds of thousands of stories and snapshots in which people have invested a large portion of their creative genius. Family tradition is one of the great repositories of culture. It contains clues to our national character and insights into our family structure (Zeitlin, Kotkin, and Baker, 2000).

Tucson is a city rich with the blended traditions of the many cultures that have lived here for centuries. Since Davis became TUSD's bilingual magnet school in 1981, the local community has been a great resource for sharing stories and personal histories with our students. In August, 2001, Davis became a member of the Arizona State Museum's Rio Nuevo School Partnership, which was developed to promote awareness of the cultural resources of the Rio Nuevo area. An integral part of the Partnership, this oral history project is intended to celebrate family and culture as it honors our ancestors and our shared past.

Oral history is a method of gathering and preserving historical information in spoken form and includes knowledge gained by interviewing family and community members. Through this oral history project, history has become more real for our students because history was not dates from a textbook, but people and families. Our students have done research investigating their heritage, their city, their neighborhoods, their school and

their families. The children involved in this project came away with a greater sense of themselves. Because the youth historians from this project will be adult leaders in the 21st century, it is important that they understand where they come from and where they need to go.

This project became a place where home and school merged rich in indigenous knowledge. In this project we have defined indigenous knowledge as knowledge that comes from a local community and as knowledge created in community. Research on the brain indicates that when an emotional or physical connection is made to learning, that learning is greatly enhanced. Thus the need for the integration of indigenous knowledge in the school so that students can feel emotionally connected to the curriculum.

Sometimes it was difficult for our students to be researchers. Taking field notes of discussions and using audiotapes was time-consuming and sometimes awkward. But this has proven to be a powerful, energetic study. We are proud that it will conclude with this publication.

-Elizabeth Arnot-Hopffer
Curriculum Specialist
Davis Bilingual Magnet School



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