First One Hundred Institute promotes literacy for Indigenous families

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For the past decade, the First One Hundred Institute has worked with Indigenous families by creating community-based books.

Those books promote cultural and linguistic revitalization and pride in Indigenous heritage. They also promote early literacy development, enhanced educational achievement, and life-long learning.

We learned more about this from Bill Mehojah with the First One Hundred Institute.

“The First One Hundred Institute has a mission of working with indigenous parents and creating community-based books both in English as well as as in the native language of the community. We’re also focused on early literacy development,” Mehojah said.

The Institute seeks to develop literacy that goes beyond reading and writing. The goal is to build upon the languages, values, customs, and history of Indigenous communities.

“Language contains the culture, once we teach the language then children will learn the culture as well and it also identifies to them the community in which they are located in,” Mehojah said. “That’s really important for a lot of people, to have an identity and to know where they came from.”

The Institute works in partnership with tribes, schools, non-profit organizations, and federal programs. The program then can provide Indigenous families with a home library filled with linguistically and culturally relevant books.

“So our community-based books really reflect the communities where those children live and we help parents, tribes, and schools create these books, then they distribute them to parents so the parents can engage with their children in reading books together. They form this life-long learning through the habit of reading,” Mehojah said.

The Institute’s workshops focus on developing local communities’ capacity to write, illustrate, translate, and narrate digital books.

Additionally, First One Hundred Institute uses software and literacy tools developed by Unite for Literacy. That company has spent more than 20 years working in American Indian schools to develop culturally and linguistically relevant books for native populations.

For more information, click here.

Bill Mehojah/First One Hundred Institute

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