The Identity Project began serving Native American youth in Santa Fe, NM in the winter of 2017 with the Urban Native Youth Pilot Program. This pilot was comprised of two semester-long residencies one Capital High School and the other at Santa Fe High School. It was supported by the NM Department of Cultural Affairs, the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture and Santa Fe Public Schools.
Building off of the success of the initial pilot, The Identity Project garnered state-level support from the Indian Education Division of New Mexico's Public Ed. Department to launch our 2017 Summer Arts Lab. This 5-week immersive experience in documentary storytelling was uniquely tailored to serve urban Native youth of the greater Santa Fe area. The Summer Arts Lab embodied a brilliant array of successes. A selection is listed below.
- Recruited and trained a staff of Identity Project Artist Educators, all of whom are local, Native, and seasoned in their artistic disciplines
- Enrolled a student body representing 24 tribal nations, with many students traveling 70+ miles daily to attend
- Established our program as an accredited high school elective through Santa Fe Public Schools
- Offered 3 paid internships to Identity Project alums from Capital High School's Native American Student Servcies program
- Launched a comprehensive program evaluation campaign
- Celebrated with 150+ attendees at our Final Student Showcase hosted by the The Museum of Indian Arts & Culture
- Produced a short film highlighting student voices in our Summer Arts Lab
2017 has seen tremendous growth for The Identity Project. Our programs serving Indigenous youth in New Mexico have doubled in size, and our state and district level partnerships have continued to blossom. Additionally, we've continued to refine our our pedagogical approach, delicately designed to cultivate empowerment and illuminate the voices of Indigenous youth through trauma-sensitive creative practice. Because our program continues to strive to respond directly to the needs of the community it serves, we have integrated two unique systems of programatic support that infuse our existing curriculum with a culturally sensitive ethic and approach.
In an effort to ground itself in the cultural values of Indigenous, and specifically Pueblo, youth, The Identity Project has worked closely with Simon Oritz, Acoma Pueblo poet and scholar, to design a pedagogical framework that draws inspiration and direction from Dr. Eunice Romero-Little’s The Keres Study: Identifying Giftedness Among Keresan Pueblo Indians. Conducted from 1990-1993, this study was instrumental in breaking down and problematizing conventional understandings of intelligence as represented by the IQ test. Dr. Romero-Little’s research resulted in the documentation of a Pueblo construct of giftedness encompassing four domains and suggesting multiple intelligences. The Identity Project has aligned our learning phases to these domains in an effort to celebrate the “whole child” and embrace the cultural values of the community we serve.
This series brings some of the most established voices in Indigenous literature and creative practice directly in to the classroom. Master Artists craft workshops that build on Identity Project curricular themes, giving students an in-depth experience of their relationship to their discipline.
Our renowned Identity Project Master Artists Series has included:
dg nanouk okpik (Inupiaq-Inuit) - poet
Stephen Fadden (Mohawk) - theater artist
Chee Brossy (Diné) - fiction writer
Enrico Nassi (Otoe Missouria/Cherokee) - theater artist
Robert Mesa (Navajo/Soboba) - photographer
Jaime Figueroa (Taíno) - poet
Our New Mexico partners include:
- Indian Education Division of NM Public Education Department
- NM Department of Cultural Affairs
- Museum of Indian Arts & Culture
- Native American Student Services of Santa Fe Public Schools
- Women's International Study Center