News & Events


April 9, 2014

Wisdom Keepers: Elders-in-Residence Proposal

Elders2014-2During the week of February 17 – 22, 2014, IWRI hosted six Indigenous (Alaska Native, American Indian, Native Hawaiian) Elders to begin the discussions and conversations for the developing Wisdom Keeper’s Indigenous Elder-in-Residence Program. We were honored to have Elders from different communities sharing stories and providing guidance and input as we weave together the components of the Elder-in-Residence Program we hope to pilot test during the Fall 2014 quarter. We also invited Indigenous students from around the UW campus to spend time with the Elders, share their vision and recommendations for the program, and learn from their Elders in an informal setting. There were rich discussions and excellent recommendations came out of these conversations that will serve as the building blocks of this program.
Elders2014-1Our collective vision for the Elder-in-Residence program is to serve as a leader and resource for the Native community across the UW campus. We also want to develop this program so the participating Elders benefit from their time in residence at IWRI and are provided opportunities to learn from others, network, and connect with the Native community. One recommendation is to host more than one Elder at a time so they can work together and learn from each other while visiting us. We envision this program to:

  • Provide a safe place and opportunities for Elders, students, staff, and faculty to share their stories, experiences, and wisdom with others,
  • Support the UW Native community and students to achieve personal and academic success,
  • Celebrate Indigenous knowledge every day in an academic setting,
  • Reinforce American Indian – Alaska Native (AIAN) identity and affirm AIAN students, and
  • Raise awareness of Indigenous cultures at IWRI, the UW, nationally, and globally.

Elders2014-3We are currently writing a program proposal outlining the need and benefits of this program and how this program will enrich the educational experiences of the students, staff, faculty, as well as the participating Elders. The proposal will include quotes from participating Elders and students to strengthen support for this program, as well as over ten letters of support from Master’s in Social Work students who had the opportunity to hear stories from Howard Luke and Elizabeth Fleagle from Fairbanks, Alaska who spent the entire week with us and spoke to several MSW classes.