With NEH Grant, UArizona Southwest Center shares Arizona and Sonora borders with K-12 educators nationwide


National Park Service interpretive ranger Theresa Ferraro talks about the Spanish colonial presence in the southwest at Tumacácori National Historical Park.

In late June, 36 K-12 educators from across the country came to Tucson for a week to receive hands-on learning about the Arizona and Sonora borderlands to take back to their classrooms. Another 36 teachers will start the residential workshop on July 18, 2022.

To fund the workshops, the University of Arizona Southwest Center received a NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture Grant for the “Arizona-Sonora Borderlands, Palimpsest of Cultures” project.

David Yetman introduces to a group of people in Desert Lab on Tumamoc Hill

David Yetman and Jeff Banister speak at Desert Lab on Tumamoc Hill about natural history and water in the Southwest.

The Arizona-Sonora Borderlands is a palimpsest — meaning repurposed or modified but still bearing traces of an earlier form — of continuous human habitation dating to at least 1200 BCE, said Southwest director Jeff Banister Center and principal researcher of the grant.

“It’s one of the longest human-inhabited areas in the United States,” Banister said. “It is a hub of complex ancient societies, clashing global empires, and dramatic desert and mountain landscapes. We wanted to ensure that our workshop participants would be able to convey this richness and depth to their students in both heart and mind. We wanted to share our passion with them.

“Our idea is to bring people here to the border, to teach them about the cultures and people who occupy these spaces and to provide an alternative to the media frenzy about what is happening at the border,” the co added. -PI Jennifer Jenkins, professor. in the Southwest Center and the English Department.

Presenter at Tumamoc Hill speaks to a small group of people

Jesús García, education specialist at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, speaks at Tumamoc Hill about the Columbian Exchange and heritage eating habits.

During the week-long workshop, educators learn about the history, arts, environments, and plural cultures of the Arizona and Sonora border regions within the context of past habitation and current conditions of coexistence. trinational (United States, Mexico, indigenous nations).

The framing question for the workshop is: how do place, space and identity intertwine in the region’s millennia of written, oral, sound and visual histories to build its future?

It was a huge task to adequately convey the richness and diversity of the region in a week-long course, Banister said.

“We wanted our teachers to leave with a solid sense of the amazing resilience that diverse peoples have shown in the face of often extremely adverse conditions, from colonialism and the militarization of borders to the effects of human-induced global warming,” said declared Banister.

Educators visited a variety of locations, including University Indian Ruin, Arizona State Museum, San Xavier del Bac, Tumacácori National Historic Park, The Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill, Mission Garden, and the Border Wall. They heard from various experts on topics related to ancestral and modern indigenous presence, Spanish colonialism, migration and the environment.

US-Mexico border wall

Educators visited Nogales and the US-Mexico border wall.

Participants will produce two items upon completion of the workshop – a teaching portfolio which includes an individual lesson or program plan and an individual video diary in which they will reflect on the content of the workshop in relation to their own class or practice educational.

Rebecca Sheinberg lives in Houston and teaches students around the world as an online instructor. Drawing on her studio experience, she plans to have her students research Indigenous cultures and will present a unit on Native American poets and Tohono O’odham myths.

“The experience was amazing,” Sheinberg said. “The professors provided excellent resources and offered opportunities for collaborative exchanges. The sites we explored were great. I learned a lot and met interesting people. It was truly a breathtaking experience.

Kathleen Bowman teaches 5th grade in Tucson and said she was drawn to the program because “there’s so much that I don’t know where I call home.”

“The content we learned gives me a better understanding of how today’s culture was created from all the groups of people who came before us in the Sonoran Desert,” Bowman said. “It will also be a powerful lesson for my students. As we strive to create a generation of culturally aware global citizens who celebrate diversity, we must first connect our students to their own community.

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