The Value of Sports: Unifying a Community
This past summer, I visited the Melbourne Museum in Australia with my children. One of the exhibitions, called First Peoples, contained beautiful stories, objects, and images from the Elders and community of the First Peoples Yulendj Group.
One section of the exhibition was a “deep listening” multimedia space where Koorie people between ages 8 and 72 spoke about their culture, their families, and identities. Their personal stories reflected their resilience and pride. I was particularly moved by the following passage, written about family by Kevin Coombs of the Wamba-Wamba tribe: “I think it’s very important for everyone to know where they come from and who their Ancestors were, and know your family, because Aboriginals, everywhere we go: ‘Where you from? Who’s your mother? Who’s your father?’…Every Aboriginal would know that one of the first things you ask them was how they’re connected.”
The short film I Am Yup’ik explores the themes of pride, resilience, and connection. The Yup’ik Eskimo people are a Native Alaskan community. The word Yup’ik means “real person” or “real people.” The film follows a 16-year-old basketball player from the tiny village of Toksook Bay and highlights the community’s culture, identity, and the power of basketball, which unites the young team, the families, and the community-at-large.
In this lesson, students explore the themes of youth awareness and empowerment, identity, and connection to home. In a reflecting writing prompt, students respond to a quote from Byron, the 16-year-old basketball player in the film who said, “If you forget what your ancestors taught you, you’re not going to survive.”