Wishtoyo’s Inter-Tribal Cultural and Marine Science Summer Field Study
Wishtoyo's Inter-Tribal Cultural and Marine Science Summer Field Study was established in 2013 as an Inter-Tribal High School Summer program that offers Native American students an opportunity to engage in cultural and marine science studies through lectures, field study, and hands on activities while creating alliances and forming a support networks with strategic planning for academic achievement toward higher education with Mentors, Teachers, Elders and in partnership with Pitzer Native American Youth 2 College Program, MERITO Foundation, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, and the Chumash Maritime Association. Students experience an increase in marine science knowledge and appreciation for their own traditional knowledge of the ocean through intercultural exchange, snorkeling & kayaking through marine protected areas, and study of the island and costal marine ecosystems. This program is inter-tribal student exchange from inland, desert, mountain, and coastal tribes' traditional relationships with the ocean and other water bodies provides a dynamic atmosphere for both learning and teaching.
It was wonderful to be back at Wishtoyo once again. Before the arrival of Europeans, my People (the Mexica) traded and connected with the Chumash People. Each time I step onto Wishtoyo I feel as if once again the threads connecting our Peoples are being mended. The land is so beautiful, and it’s an amazing feeling to know at least this part of the land, the village, is being taken care by its People. As the land does not belong to the People rather the People belong to the land.
I enjoyed seeing all the students from the program show a different side to themselves that was free, open, and curious. Being at Wishtoyo does something special to you, especially when you are indigenous. For me I feel more connected to the ancestors and nature. I feel as if time has stopped, and I can focus on the small things in life like laughing, loving, and learning. It was incredible to see and hear that each student enjoyed what little time we spent at Wishtoyo. Despite only being at Wishtoyo for about a day and a half, as a group we were able to share songs, dances, and stories under the night sky and by the fire. I was humbled to be able to share a dance from my People’s culture with everyone there. However, I have to admit that one of my favorite things about Wishtoyo are the three German Shepherds which truly help make Wishtoyo feel like a home away from home. Mati, Luhui, and everyone else at Wishtoyo make all who visit feel as if they are apart of a greater family. What a magnificent time at Wishtoyo, I can’t wait for next time.