The following is an excerpt of a recent letter that Executive Director Reed Harwood sent to Dragons instructors, past and present. It offers some history on the new Bishop Paiute Scholarship, which is the result of a relationship between Dragons staff and the indigenous tribe that lives near the site of Dragons annual staff orientation in the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains.
Dear Instructor Community:
“I believe in gatherings” said Paul Chaves, a member of the Bishop Paiute Tribe. “And when you gather good people… that’s powerful. This is powerful.” We shared a canopy of stars, the dusty forest floor, and the piñon breeze. We gathered in the current and ancestral home of the Paiute: the Payahuunadu, aka the Owens River Valley, aka the annual site of Dragons Staff Orientation in the Eastern Sierra.
Dragons and the Bishop Paiute forged a connection in June of 2018, when a small group of Dragons instructors visited the Paiute tribe on their land in Bishop. The Dragons delegation had collected seeds from Bolivia, Peru, Guatemala, Madagascar, Thailand, India, Laos, and Mexico for the Paiute’s Food Sovereignty Program. Later that week, a small group of Paiute representatives visited Dragons Orientation at the mouth of Rock Creek. We broke bread, they wondered and laughed at our “Talent Show,” and in Paul’s words a “friendship and allyship” was born. This year, we again participated in their Food Sovereignty program. They shared a meal with us at the our orientation campground, performed traditional songs and spoken word poetry at our talent show, and returned the next day to sell artisan goods at our global market.
Paul told me the ancient myths of the condor and the eagle, and the connections between his people and the people where the Andean condor flies. His people have always been global travelers. “The Paiute are a sovereign nation,” he said, “and our voice is needed at the global table. We’re getting there, but our youth need more global perspective and connection.” I felt the call of reciprocity pulse through my body. The ancestral home of the Paiute has held us for decades, and the Dragons community can now support the Paiute in gaining access to global engagement.
This fall, the Dragons Fund created a scholarship: the Bishop Paiute Scholarship. This annually-awarded, full-ride scholarship will support Bishop Paiute youth on Dragons programs.
As a Dragons staff member, you have received inspiration and solace from the Payahuunadu, the land of the Paiute. You believe in the power of global education. You know how vital it is to have indigenous representation at the table, as we navigate the survival of our collective history.
Over the next four months, Courtney Zenner Campbell* and Briana Bellamy* will guide the Dragons Fund’s “Ten Scholarships in 2020” campaign, which includes our goal to provide one full-ride summer scholarship to a Bishop Paiute student. Their campaign is just beginning, and they will need your help. If the spirit moves you to support this scholarship, when donating, simply write “Bishop Paiute Scholarship” in the “Add Special Instructions” section.
*Former Dragons instructors and administrators, Briana Bellamy and Courtney Zenner Campbell currently manage the Dragons Fund and its fall “Ten in 2020” campaign. Their goal is to raise money for ten full scholarships for students who could not otherwise afford to participate in a Dragons program.