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Contemporary People/Bernie Whitebear

EALRS: (History 1) The student examines and understands major ideas, eras, themes, developments, turning points, chronology, and cause-and-effect relationships in US, World and Washington State history. (History 2) The student applies the methods of social science investigation to investigate, compare and contrast interpretations of historical events.

GRADE LEVEL: Secondary

BASIC CONCEPTS: Instead of focusing on historical figures from the distant past, viewing contemporary people as heroes, bravehearts, and warriors in today's world offers role models that students can readily identify with.

ORGANIZING GENERALIZATION: The study of history will oftentimes leave students wondering the significance of individuals in the reality of their world. By connecting students with individuals that have lived during their lifetimes or that are still contributing to the events that have significance in their lives makes history much more interesting and relevant to them. They will begin to realize that all people, historic or contemporary, not only have much in common with them and their interests, but that they can also have a significant effect on the issues that concern us all. They, too, can become a hero, braveheart, or warrior in today's world.

CULTURE AREA: Washington State

TIME PERIOD: Present day

BACKGROUND: Bernie Whitebear (Sept.27, 1937 - July 16, 2000) was one of the best-know Native American Washingtonians, battling to the end of his life to maintain Native American legacies and rights. Whitebear gained wide recognition by helping lead the 1970 "invasion" of Fort Lawton in northwest Seattle, to ultimately gain the land for the Daybreak Star Center. Whitebear was born in Inchelium in eastern Washington, and was raised on the Colville Reservation. As one of six children of an Indian mother and Filipino father, he changed his last name from Reyes to honor his grandfather who was a member of the Sin-Aikst Tribe, later known as Lakes Indians, and now part of the Colville Confederated Tribe. Whitebear joined the Army, became a paratrooper with 101st Airborne Division and was a Green Beret for two years.


Knowledge Students will: (History 1.1) understand historical time, chronology, and causation, (History 1.3) examine the influence of culture on US, World, and Washington State history, and (History 2.1) investigate and research, (History 2.2) analyze historical information, and (History 2.3) synthesize information and reflect on findings.

Skills Students will: Read article included, and research historical and contemporary people and events then analyze the significant accomplishments of this figure of historical importance.

Values Students will: work forward from an initiating event to its outcome, recognizing cause-and-effect, multiple causation, or the accidental as factors in history, examine and discuss historical contributions to US society of various individuals and groups from different cultural, racial and linguistic backgrounds, AND investigate a topic using electronic technology, library resources, and human resources from the community, organize and record information, separate fact from conjecture, discern bias, separate relevant from irrelevant information in persuasive materials, distinguish verifiable information, evaluate information and develop a statement of the significance of the findings; defending their own analysis.

ACTIVITIES: Students will read accompanying article, then research library resources, technological resources, and local human resources to be able to analyze the significant events that Whitebear participated in or supported. Whitebear helped in the founding of the Seattle Indian Health Board, which provides health service to Native Americans who had no such services. He was also the head of the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation, that has gown to employ 11 people with a budget of $5 million, offering 13 educational programs, counseling and other programs to an estimated 4,500 people each year. The importance of these services to Native Americans, the implications for the greater society, and the relevance to today's issues and concerns should be expressed in the students writings on the research findings.

EXTENSIONS: Investigate the events that precipitated the 1970 "invasion" of Fort Lawton, the three month occupation, the arrests and several "reinvasions" of the 1,110 acre property, which later became Discovery Park.

EVALUATION: Contemporary people that have or had a significant influence in the development of Washington State history, events, and issues will broaden a students concepts of self, community, and world issues. Portraying these individuals as regular, ordinary individuals will allow a student the capacity to see how they can have a positive influence on the world around them.

"Walking On: Bernie Whitebear" in News From Indian Country, Mid August 2000 issue, p. 13A

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