Discovering Yidong Xinag

(The Old Wisdom)

A Native youth leadership initiative

Formerly “The Wisdom Project”, Discovering Yidong Xinag is a Native youth leadership initiative developed by Wisdom of the Elders, Inc. providing Native youth and families from the greater Portland area with hands-on outdoor conservation and restoration service learning activities. The Wisdom Project projects and activities focus upon regional environmental and climate issues and include Wisdom’s Native Saturday Science Academies, Summer Field Science Camps, Film Screenings, Native Peer Mentorships, and Wisdom Gardens.

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Wisdom is continuing to adapt our educational model to develop culturally tailored multimedia STEM curriculum that is compatible with Native American learning styles. It integrates best practices curriculum from EPA, NASA, NOAA and Portland’s Climate Action Plan with Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) of Northwest tribal elders, scientists and cultural leaders. Highlighting Native Americans as America’s “First Scientists,” the lesson plans strengthen student cultural identity and resiliency factors and encourage Native youth to pursue career pathway planning in STEM fields.

Partners include Beaverton School District Title VII Indian Education Program, Native American Youth and Family Center, Northwest Indian College, Portland State University Graduate School of Education, Portland Community Media TV, Ecotrust, United Nations University’s Regional Center of Expertise.

Funding for The Wisdom Project has been provided by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Metro, Oregon Community Foundation, The Collins Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Mt. Hood Cable Regulatory Commission, Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, Running Strong for American Indian Youth, Portland Watershed Stewardship Program, Gray Family Foundation, Black United Fund of Oregon and Diack Foundation.

The Native peer mentors will receive a stipend for participating in week trainings from June through August as they learn about:

  • Local and regional environmental and climate issues
  • GIS survey mapping
  • Skills training in peer mentoring and leadership
  • Video production and post-production editing so youth can learn to produce a short video featuring their Summer Field STEAM Camp group

The youth will then serve as peer mentors at Wisdom’s Summer Field STEAM Camps for Native youth. Camp sessions will include classroom education in the mornings and fun service learning activities at several natural areas and other outdoor locations in the Portland area during the afternoons. In the fall, we will show their video productions at a Video Screening and Community Consultation and acknowledge them for their work.