In 2020, Muckleshoot Tribal School launched a pilot program that incorporated culture, education, and substance use prevention with learning how to ski or snowboard. Despite the challenges the pandemic created, MTS continued to pilot and fully integrate programming into both 5th and 8th grade.
Through the development of the program and the vision of Councilman Louie Ungaro and School Commission, the piloted program was named “Mountain to Sound: The Crystal Mountain Project” and was outfitted with a 2000 sq. ft yurt that provides a private dedicated space for classroom instruction.
Mountain to Sound has garnered national recognition and is fully funded through grants. Mountain to Sound is the first and only classroom on federal land in the entire country and is a world class, land-based program in whichMTS students in both 5th Grade and 8th Grade experience culturally-centered programming directly aligned to Common Core, Next Generation, and OSPI’s adopted standards.
This year’s program just wrapped up and we are thankful for the land, resources, teachings, passion, and time that everyone has given these students and future leaders. Students spent time learning about the five traditional teachers (sight: qəl̕qəl̕ub, sound: q̓ ?əl̕g?əladiʔ, touch: c̓uk̓ ?əb, taste: qədx?, and smell: bəqsəd) to navigate the land as their ancestors did while also practicing their traditional language bəqəlšuɬucid.
They spent time in meditation at the top of the mountain and learned about the importance of protecting and practicing treaty rights. Students had the opportunity to learn about science topics, such as the albedo effect and water quality as it pertains to river and salmon habitats. Students hiked to a river on the mountain to test the water quality in order to analyze the health of the water.
The outdoor classroom was the perfect place for this learning. In partnership with the Crystal Mountain Resort, students learned about a multitude of career paths available. Students also learned about avalanche safety and even got to meet the search and rescue dogs and their handlers!
Not only did students learn about academic and cultural teachings, students learned a lot bout themselves during the program. Things that may have been harder to learn inside a building. As students persevered to learn the difficult sport of snowboarding or skiing, they also learned that they are strong, tenacious, capable, supportive, resilient, and brave.
Students worked together to help each other be successful and continuously encouraged one another. We often heard students shouting from the ski lift to friends below, “You’ve got this!” or “Way to go!” These interpersonal skills they learned on the mountain have been taken back to school, family, work, and other environments.
Students learned about their individual strengths and worked hard to build self confidence skills that will allow them to be successful in their everyday life. Many connections were made to their ancestors, the family that came before them and the struggles they went through.
Our hands are raised high in thanks to Councilman Louie Ungaro, School Commission, andMTS Administration for their unwavering support and the many other individuals that made this happen, both at MTS and Crystal Mountain. Though there were many that made this possible, the students are the ones that truly carried and honored the work out on the landscape.
The Muckleshoot Messenger is a Tribal publication created by the Muckleshoot Office of Media Services. Tribal community members and Tribal employees are welcome to submit items to the newspaper such as news, calendar items, photos, poems, and artwork.