Native American students designed and painted the 60-by-30-foot mural. Student artists are pictured with Woodland Joint USD Superintendent Elodia Ortega-Lampkin.
Native youth celebrate their heritage with mural
August 21, 2023
Woodland community members recently came together to celebrate the unveiling of a cultural mural created by Native youth — and attendees were honored to add their own handprint to the mural.
The mural is the culmination of a series of cultural workshops for Native American students organized by Native Dads Network and in collaboration with the Woodland Joint Unified School District’s American Indian Parent Committee. It came two weeks after the district held its first-ever Native Student Promotion and Graduation Ceremony in June.
“The whole purpose of the mural is to prevent indigenous erasure,” said Mike Duncan, founder and executive director of Native Dads Network, “specifically of Patwin people from this area. I believe it’s super important for future generations to understand that we’ve been here for thousands of years and that they get to be part of the link that leads to a future generation of healing. Involving the youth of this project and inviting the community out to participate is super important. It brings recognition. It gives them a sense of pride, a sense of culture, of sustainability, and a sense of pride of being indigenous to this land.”
Native American students from the Woodland area in grades seven through 12 designed and painted the 60-by-30-foot mural in just five days with support from the Hope Through Art Foundation.
“This mural means a lot to me because we don’t have a lot of representation of Native people,” said Younique Wethington, a student artist who graduated from Woodland High School this year. “I’m glad that future generations will be able to see themselves somewhere in this town because we’ve never seen any Native representation before that.”
Younique said she spent hours doing detail work on the mural, including outlining the sun and on the boy’s beads.
“This is a very beautiful art piece,” said Woodland Joint Unified School District Superintendent Elodia Ortega-Lampkin. “It reminds us that we need to learn more about everyone’s history. Our Native American students need to learn about their own history. They need to know their contributions. They need to be proud of their heritage, of their ancestors, and of the impacts they have made in California. This mural signifies that we see you, we hear you, and we embrace you.”
Superintendent Elodia Ortega-Lampkin adds her handprint to the mural along with other community members.
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