This past month I had the pleasure of accompanying Micker (Mike) Richardson, the Head Start Collaboration Director for Region 11 AIAN (American Indian and Alaska Native) programs, on a site visit to a couple of Oregon’s Tribal Head Start programs. At Ca-Uma-Wa Head Start we met with Margaret Gunshow, the program manager for Head Start, and the Education Director, Modesta Minthorn-Pinawollenmay. We learned about the strong investment and support from tribal leaders and community members to enhance the work done with children and families. One example of this was some beautiful cradle-boards crafted by Cleo Agnes Dick, an elder with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation; specifically for the Head Start classrooms.
At the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, we met with Cheryl Tom, who oversees the Head Start program, and was quick to invite her content area managers so that they could share more with us about their work and the uniqueness of the supports they provide. We also learned about a generous gift of regalia from a member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs to assure that each child had an item to wear for a Pow-wow that was occurring later that week. The work of these programs is vital to children and families and the connection between the priorities of the tribes and the goals of Head Start for children and families was clear. It was a first step in continuing to build a meaningful relationship with these valuable providers in our state.