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Annual Widening the Circle Native American & Hmong Indigenous Education Conference

Responsive Pedagogy: Understanding Indigenous Identities & Positive Imagery

About the Symposium

In 2001, members of the UW-La Crosse Native American Student Association (NASA) attended a conference at which they learned that a Wisconsin statute, known as Act 31, was not being implemented in Wisconsin public schools.  Many reasons cited for the failure to implement related to not being aware of resources.  It was then that these same students decided to invite teachers to learn about Act 31. They called on JP Leary, then WI DPI American Indian Studies Director, to present for a one day training.  Since then, the conference has been held each year expanding into various aspects of pedagogy and Native American education.

A few years after the first training, a cultural preservation conference was organized by NASA and HOPE (Hmong Organizing to Promote Education) students.  It was at this time that the parallels in struggles in school were seen between Native American students and Hmong students.  The Act 31 Conference was then expanded, widened, to what is now known as the Act 31, Widening the Circle Indigenous Education Conference.

Educators, administrators, pre-service teachers and youth have the opportunity to hear experts in these issues, learn resources, tips and advice on how to be more inclusive in the classroom and improve the success of indigenous students.  Many participants return knowing that new information is available every year as well as an opportunity to develop networks to continuously improve their schools and teaching skills.

Widening the Circle Fees & Registration

Early Bird
Full Conference:  $25 Student   |   $90 Individual   |   $25 Elder

After January 31
Full Conference:  $30 Student   |   $100 Individual   |   $30 Elder

Youth Track: Positive Imagery (open to Middle and High School Students)

The Youth Conference is open to all students grades 6-12 with a special focus toward Native and Hmong youth.  The youth conference engages students in ways to advocate for themselves and others, build confidence and self-esteem in their cultures and develop leadership skills.

For this year's youth track, youth will need to arrive Friday evening, no later than 8pm, preferably earlier.  A safe location will host the youth for a Lock-in including food, icebreakers and short films followed by discussion.  Youth will need to bring a sleeping bag/blankets and a pillow for the overnight.  After breakfast Saturday morning, youth will have an opportunity to shower at the local YMCA after which, they will start Saturday's session at the main conference location.  Saturday will revisit the theme of Positive Imagery seen in the Friday night film(s) led by professor, author and filmmaker Patty Loew  Please feel free to watch a video created through one of her initiatives, Tribal Youth Media project:

Chaperones are encouraged to stay with the conference either with their youth or attending the regular conference for only $10.  

Local staff have collaborated with Tou Saiko Lee, of the Twin Cities to encourage creativity and art the last couple years.  Below is a link of a song Hmong youth wrote and recorded.  Videos are in the works.