Exeter carnival to raise funds, cultural awareness
Native American culture is as much a part of America as Puritan work ethic, Mexican food and Irish whiskey. Yet many children grow up learning little about the first Americans and their values of natural balance, respect of their elders and caring for everyone within the village.
Kimberly J. Brown grew up as a descendant of three tribes of Yokut Nation in the Central Valley – Wuckumni, Yowlumni and Tachi. When her oldest son started preschool at Union Elementary School west of Farmersville in 1992, she asked the teachers if they were doing anything for Native American Indian Month. Unfortunately, the teachers had never even heard of the designation nor did they know it fell in November. So she decided to gather a few artifacts and a small amount of information from her tribe elders to give a presentation to the students. Two of the teachers enjoyed the presentation so much, they encouraged Brown to take the information to other schools.
“I have received thousands of letters from teachers and students each year about how much they enjoy the program,” she said.
Brown began gathering more information from tribe elders throughout the valley. She found more artifacts and photos to improve the program each year. Her hands-on program allows students to touch every single artifact in order to engage them at a young age, such as clap sticks, rattles and arrowheads. Now known as Kimberly’s Native American Culture History Program, Brown gives the presentation and demonstrations to more than 100,000 students each year to nearly every grade level at 60 schools in Tulare, Kings, Fresno and Kern Counties. For the last 10 years, about 220 fourth-grade students at Rocky Hill Elementary in Exeter see her presentation each May during the school’s History Day. Brown gives the presentation to 165 fourth-graders at Castle Rock Elementary in Woodlake and around 400 students between Kindergarten and eighth grade at Washington Elementary in Lindsay during similar days in November.
“I don’t take any pay for what I do,” she said. “The children’s smiles, that’s my pay. I know every year the school budget gets cut and I feel all available funding resources should be used in the classrooms to the benefit the student’s education first.”
But in order to educate more students on my culture Brown said she needs to begin raising money. She is preparing to hold her first fund-raiser, a carnival, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24 at Exeter City Park. There will be bounce houses, inflatable obstacle courses, carnival games, food booths, prizes and a raffle. Admission to the event is free and tickets for the carnival games, bounce houses and “sling shot” races are 50 cents each.
Brown hopes the carnival is the first step in raising enough funds to make sure every school in Tulare County learns more about Native American culture as an important part of our nation’s heritage.
“I always remind everyone to be proud of who they are and where they come from,” Brown said. “Not everything they need to know is written in a book.”
For more information call 559-429-4135 or visit www.kjnative.com.