PABLO – Three treasured interactive DVDs produced by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ Natural Resource Department suffered a setback back due to technology in 2020. Fire on the Land, Explore the River, and Lower Flathead River Interactive Map and Resource Guide were all developed with the now-discontinued Flash software platform. 

Thanks to a grant from the U.S. Office of Indian Education’s Native Youth Community Partnership Projects, the content from all three discs are now online and can be found at http://fwrconline.csktnrd.org/index.html

The grant went to Salish Kootenai College’s BRAIDS program, which partnered with CSKT’s Education Department, which also helped fund the conversion. 

“We are very grateful to BRAIDS and so excited to have these incredible educational resources available on the web to educators and students across Montana,” said Michelle Mitchell, Department head of CSKT’s Education Department. “These collections are among the highest quality Indian education content anywhere, and they have made a major contribution to the state’s collection of tribally created and supported content that schools can use to meet Montana’s Indian Education For All mandate.” 

That Indian Education For All mandate is part of Montana’s constitution and reaffirmed and strengthened in state law. It requires that students have the opportunity to learn about the cultures and histories of American Indian Tribes in Montana. 

“Now this rich and interactive set of materials is available to teachers, students and really anyone that has a connection to the Internet,” Mitchell said. “These works are examples of the tribe’s excellence in science education that utilizes the best available science to teach wildland fire, fire history, forest ecology, aquatic ecology, stream restoration and more, from a tribal perspective.” 

Stephanie Gillin, the Tribes’ Information and Education Program Manager, said requests for the DVDs still come in from across Montana and the Pacific Northwest. 

“Students and teachers loved the DVDs and are excited to now have them available online,” Gillin said. “The USFS and Glacier National Park have also used the DVDs. We’re fortunate to provide these great resources online to enhance the learning experience teachers and students.” 

The collective works use a combination of science and culture to demonstrate the Tribes’ historic use of science as a part of our everyday way of life. Extensive lesson plans for grades K-12 are also provided. 

“Students can virtually build a traditional fish trap from willows or a fish hook from a hawthorn. They can virtually restore a stream,” Gillin said. “They can learn how to put together a plan for a prescribed burn and learn about the tools lookouts use to spot wildfires.” 

Students can also learn about the amazing wildlife and plant species found on the Reservation and the Tribes’ cultural connection to them all. The dedication and passion for the project has made them treasured resources for educators and students.

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