The Keres Children’s Learning Center (KCLC) strives to reclaim our children's education and honor our heritage by using a comprehensive cultural and academic curriculum to assist families in nurturing Keres-speaking, holistically healthy, community-minded, and academically strong students.
What communities does KCLC serve and where do they call home?
KCLC provides services to the Pueblo de Cochiti, a community of about 620 people. KCLC serves 18 children ages 2.5–8. Their 23 parents and approximately 30 extended family members are actively involved in twice-monthly seminars and regular events. KCLC employs 13 people, 9 of whom are from Cochiti Pueblo. We teach children their language, culture, academics, and the importance of healthy food and stewardship of the earth. We educate Elders, parents and tribal leaders about educational sovereignty.
What would you like to share about your work?
Reclaiming the education of our children starting in early childhood is innovative because we have created a school that honors the whole child providing all instruction in Keres while also providing necessary academic skills to succeed in their school and future whole lives. Keres Language continues to suffer at the hand of a western educational system that rigorously strives to educate/evaluate native students by a standard foreign to Native communities. Values such as stressing a responsibility to one’s community are replaced with ideas of individualism. Where at home the heritage language is valued as something precious, the western education labels these fluent speakers as “English Language Learners” and tutors the Keres Language away. As people of a sovereign nation, whose greatest wish is for KERES to be carried on, we have created in KCLC, our own expectation of what it means to educate our children. Transformative change requires knowledge sharing amongst all generations and around all areas of our lives.
What’s new and exciting in your work? What exciting things are you learning that is informing your approach?
KCLC has grown beyond the classroom by impacting the wider landscape of Indigenous education through visits from local and national organizations, invitations to participate in state and national discussions about Indigenous education policies, and the creation of our Native Language Symposium and the Indigenous Montessori Institute (IMI). KCLC is a source of "inspiration" for Indigenous communities, demonstrating that it is possible to create an education that is truly reflective of who we are as Native Americans.