WWU’s Anna Lees talks Indigenous community driven research with a packed house for Native American Heritage Month

A second room had to be opened to accommodate the crowd as WWU Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education Anna Lees presented about Indigenous community driven research Tuesday in the Multicultural Center.

Lees, who is a descendant of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, opened her educational session with one of the questions that drives her: For whom and for what do we do the work? As someone who works in elementary education, her answer is children and families, as well as her community.

“How do we think positively about the kind of work we can do in the institutions we’re in?” she said.

Lees shared about some of the projects that she’s a part of that work toward Indigenous futures. One project she takes pride in is a land education teacher professional development project with the Lummi Nation and Fairhaven Associate Professor Dolores Calderon that builds processes for teachers to talk about worldviews and perspectives that can shape relationships with land and place. She also works with Coast Salish tribes on Indigenous land education in early childhood language curriculum, as well as curriculum work on learning in places. Outside of Western, she works on Indigenous STEAM projects to help get students out in the world.

Lees’ presentation was one of a slate of events on campus throughout November celebrating Native American Heritage Month. Tonight Western will host “The Healing Heart of the First People of this Land” by Canadian composer Bruce Ruddell at 7:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center Concert Hall. The free concert will be preceded by a panel discussion at 6:30 p.m.

Explore the full list of events at wwu.edu/nahm