Cultural mentoring for American Indian students: The power of the drum and Southern Plains social songs in a southern Arizona classroom

Based on classroom research, this study identifies and describes the components of an effective cultural mentoring program (CMP) for American Indian students at an elementary school serving the Pascua Yaqui (Yoeme) Nation near Tucson, Arizona. The CMP studied here uses American Indian, specifically Southern Plains, songs to teach students about the etiquette and respectful behaviors that are associated with being a singer. The drum, songs and presence of a mentor reinforce the fact that there is no place for drugs, alcohol, gang affiliation or disrespect in a classroom that utilizes the drum. Student journals and a teacher questionnaire were used to gauge the effectiveness of Southern Plains songs in a Yoeme classroom as a teaching tool and stabilizing force. The use of lessons involving Southern Plains songs with Yoeme students did not create a perfect "cultural fit." The "cultural differences" that were realized created a healthy curiosity in the classroom that promoted learning. This example of a CMP has enhanced the educational experiences, and provided avenues for improvement, of students in a 4th grade classroom.


Joseph Martin


K. Tsianina Lomawaima





Arizona State Museum: 

M9791 M36t


ATT 1396520

UA Library: 

E9791 2000 383
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences