Eco-Justice Ministries
   Eco-Justice: "the well-being of all humankind on a thriving Earth"
 

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Eco-Curriculum Review for the title
Honoring Our Mother Earth: Experiences in Native American Spirituality

This is the full report format.

Short Description:   Honoring Our Mother Earth speaks to the Unitarian Universalist Seventh Principle: "We covenant to affirm and promote the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part."
Long Description:   The Unitarian Universalist Association expanded the list of sources from wheich we draw our living tradition to include: "Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions". The author intends this resource to uphold the UUA Seventh Principle by drawing upon a wide variety of American Indian traditions and beliefs.

Bibliographic & Purchasing Information
Author:   Tirrell H. Kimball Green Timber Publications
Publication date:   1997 Website for this resource:   none known
We know of 1 source for purchasing this resource.
Address Green Timber Publications
P.O. Box 3884
Portland, ME   04104  
Phone 207-926-3146   Fax  
Website http://www.uucards.org/kimball.php E-mail rkimbal4@maine.rr.com  
Price $30.00  Order #  

Target Audience & Course Sessions
Age levels Preschool     Primary     Jr. High     Sr. High     Adult
The reviewer specifies:   age specific or intergenerational
NOTE: Our reviewer may have checked a wider age range than specified in the curriculum itself.
Optimum class size none mentioned 
Normal number/length of sessions If the curriculum's normal lesson plan is followed, there will be 12 class sessions each lasting about 75-90 sessions
Are suggestions included for expanding/contracting the series? Some churches add 15 minutes before and after the church hour, or at least 15 minutes after to have more time.  
In the judgement of the reviewer:
 it is not reasonable to plan for a single, self-contained class session from these materials.
 using these materials, a class can be offered that runs for at least two sessions.
Are learners expected to do homework? Participants sometimes encouraged to bring symbols to each session.  
Target audience:
 Interfaith - addressed people of many faiths
 Judeo-Christian - addressed to Jews & Christians
 Christian - addressed explicitly to Christians
 Not explicity faith-based - not much religious content
Note: The reviewer says that this curriculum is especially appropriate for members of the denomination or agency that developed it (Unitarian Universalist). For example, it may explore a denominational policy statement. The reviewer also believes that it is possible for groups outside that tradition to make good use these materials.

Materials provided
Materials include:
 Leader's guide
 Student book
 Discussion questions
 Class activities - arts & crafts
 Class activities - group participation 
 Video
 Reading materials
 Presentation or lecture notes
 Prayer or worship resources
 

Other supportive materials provided: Readings, songs, poems, bibliographies, sample bullitens, American Indian designs
Other materials required:drums, art, tape player, books, chalice, many arts and crafts supplies and "nature materials"
Description of the Leader's Guide:Each session includes extensive guidance for leaders. Each begins with a clear statement of themes to be covered, "plan ahead" directions, and a list of needed materials and resources. Upon convening the group, leaders receive adequate tools for facilitating an opening circle ceremony, leading group activities, and offering readings/meditations/poems.
Description of the Student's Book:This resource seems largely designed for leaders. There are no distinct materials specifically for students.

Materials review & Assessment of usability
Are all necessary materials provided in an accessible format? Yes - materials are very well laid out and comprehensive  
Is the leader's guide comprehensive? Adequate - all necessary information is present  
Are class sessions clearly outlined? Yes - materials are very well laid out and comprehensive  
Will it be helpful to have a teacher with above-average expertise in the subject matter? Helpful to have teacher expertise  
Preparation time required by the leader:
Subjectively rated as heavy, medium or light
Medium Facilitators are directed to follow instructions in the "plan ahead" section of each session (e.g. find a specific book). The most time intensive part of the preparation seems to be the collection of "materials and resources" needed for each session. Many of the items could prove difficult to find (e.g. drums, tapes of Native American music, various books. 

Content focus
Is this curriculum explicitly focused on environmental awareness or action? Yes, as one of several emphases  
Does this curriculum deal with a specific environmental issue or problem? No specific issue but emphasis on American Indian spirituality/ethics.  
How is the scope of the environmental impact positioned?  Impact on specific human communities
 Impact on humans in general
 Impact on humans and non-human parts of creation
 Impact on non-human parts of creation only  
Does the curriculum address questions of social or economic justice in relation to environmental issues? Yes - as part of the topic  
Does the curriculum provide detailed content in a particular academic area?   For example, is there significant content in biology, physics, sociology, economics, etc.?
Biblical & theological content are covered below
No. Emphasis is placed upon developing reverence for Earth.  
Biblical/theological content
Does the curriculum have explicit biblical or theological content? Yes, as one theme among several  
How are the Biblical materials used? Individual texts are presented as meaningful ('proof texts')
Several texts are developed to show a larger biblical theme
Texts are placed in a historical or cultural context
Texts are presented as authoritative
Students are invited to comment/reflect on the meaning or authority of texts
Biblical texts are of equal importance to other scriptures/readings
The reviewer did not answer the question.  
The checked statements reflect how ethical guidelines are grounded The Bible tells us how we should live/act
A theological tradition or other authority tells us how we should live/act
We should make decisions about how to live/act based on defined ethical norms
Caring for creation is an assumed norm
Other: Based on sense of humans being fellow members of Earth  
The curriculum views humanity's role in creation as:
The checked lines are clearly affirmed
Domination - God created the Earth for human use; there are no real restrictions on what we can or should do.
Stewardship - "The Earth is the Lord's"" and humans are in a position of managing the creation according to God's will.
Partner - Humans are part of the web of creation, and participate in it as one species among many.
Intruder - Humans are separate from nature, and inherently destructive.
In evaluating changes to "solve" environmental problems, does the curriculum tend toward an approach that is: Confessional - I/we need to change
Confrontational - Some other person, policy or institutions needs to change
Combination - a mix of confessional and confrontational
The reviewer did not answer this question.

Content approach
Which of these are a primary target outcome of the curriculum?  Increase awareness or concern about the environment in general
 Increase awareness of concern about a specific environmental issue
 Acquiring factual knowledge about an issue
 Changing or deepening personal beliefs
 Change in self-awareness or self-identity
 Changes in personal behaviors or lifestyle choices
 Influence on institutional (church or other) practices
 Increased political advocacy
 No change, or goal not clear
Range of perspectives offered:   A single perspective is offered
  Compares 2 or more perspectives
  A diversity of perspectives presented

Subjective Reviewer Feedback
In general, would you use this program with your congregation/organization? Why or why not?
In general, I would only recommend this program to congregations specifically wanting to ground Earth care through American Indian tradtions. But even then, I would have reservations.
What specific feedback do you have after reviewing these materials? What did you like? What did you not like?
What I did not like: To her credit, the author does acknowledge the fact that she is not American Indian. She acknowledges the "difficulties in presenting information about traditions and beliefs that are not part of my own personal heritage". Even with this acknowledgement, I was very uncomfortable (at times) with the material. Though she does her work with much care and respect, I still feel that she frequently boarders on co-opting sacred materials and/or misunderstanding them. Im certainly not one to judge but I did feel uncomfortable and would have preferred this coming from an American Indian author. What I did like: The intergenerational approach and the attempt to incorporate "embodied" ways of learning: song, story, movement etc.
What questions did you have after reviewing the materials?
See feedback section.
What, if any, concerns do you have about the use or implementation of this curriculum?
To her credit, the author does acknowledge the fact that she is not American Indian. She acknowledges the "difficulties in presenting information about traditions and beliefs that are not part of my own personal heritage". Even with this acknowledgement, I was very uncomfortable (at times) with the material. Though she does her work with much care and respect, I still feel that she frequently boarders on co-opting sacred materials and/or misunderstanding them. Im certainly not one to judge but I did feel uncomfortable and would have preferred this coming from an American Indian author.
What content, if any, does this program seem to be missing? What would you like this program to cover which it does not?
More of a social/economic/ecological-justice focus.
Have you ever used this program in the past, or heard of others who have used it? What if any response was received?
No.


Eco-Justice Ministries   *   400 S Williams St, Denver, CO   80209   *   Home Page: www.eco-justice.org
Eco-Justice Ministries ended all programming on July 31, 2020. This site is an archive of writings and resources.
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