Sixth Annual Urban Native Education Conference:
Water Ways of Life: Teachings, Practices, and Knowledge in Action
April 21-23, 2022
Illinois Holocaust Museum,
9603 Woods Drive
Skokie, IL 60077


Our conference theme this year is Water ways of life: teachings, practices, and knowledge in action. Our relationship with water starts at the beginning of time, in many of our Indigenous creation stories. Water is connected to many teachings in our life. Water surrounds us as our first environment when we are in the womb and we continue to have deep relationships with water throughout our lifetime. Water connects us to the world around us and our responsibilities and relationship to others.

This conference will facilitate the exchange of strategies, tools, and research for Native American education in urban communities. Interactive workshops will be offered on various educational issues, broadly construed, tackling the theme of Water Ways of Life: Teachings, Practices, and Knowledge in Action, from leadership to child development and Indigenous knowing and learning.


Schedule Overview

UNEC Schedule Overview

Thursday, April 21, 2022: Social Networking Event, 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm (Maggiano’s at Old Orchard, in-person ONLY)

Friday, April 22, 2022: Day 1 of Conference, 10:00 am – 4:30 pm (Illinois Holocaust Museum OR virtual option)

Saturday, April 23, 2022: Day 2 of Conference, 10:00 am – 3:30 pm (Illinois Holocaust Museum OR virtual option)

We thank you for your interest in attending our conference.

Registration is free and includes entry to the Social Networking Event and well as both days of the conference.

Please register through our Eventbrite page linked below.

Register Here


Ticket Options

We are offering an in-person, virtual, or hybrid options. When registering, there are two types of ticket options- General Registration and a General Registration with option for childcare. The CAICC Education Conference is once again partnering with Title VI American Indian Education Program to provide a children’s room at the Illinois Holocaust Museum during UNEC 2022, for kids ages 5 to 12 years old. The team of excellent childcare workers will engage your children with activities, providing you with that critical peace of mind so you can attend your sessions and events worry-free. Please be sure to select the child care option and read and sign the waiver when you register. Limited spots are available and registration is on a first-come, first-served basis—so it’s recommended that parents register their kids early. Please note that this conference is family-friendly so attendees of any age are also welcome to attend all conference sessions so use of the children’s room is not required.

Register Here
Session Information

Friday, April 22, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Wiigwaasi-jiimaan: These Canoes Carry Culture
Thunderbird Room, Classroom A
Patty Loew (Mashkiiziibii- Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe), Koji Taylor, Maya Mojica, David Deloso

Wiigwaasi-jiimaan: These Canoes Carry Culture describes the unique learning opportunities associated with the construction of a birchbark canoe by master canoe builder Wayne Valliere, Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe at Northwestern University in fall 2021. Students, staff, faculty, and community members learned how powerful learning can be when it’s taken out of the classroom and becomes a shared experience. Journalism students involved in the project will share highlights from an interactive website they created.

Introducing the Indiana Dunes Indigenous Cultural Trail
Maple Room, Classroom B
Christine Livingston

Description soon.

Friday, April 22, 2:15 pm – 3:15 pm

Indigenous Water Pedagogies: Cultivating Relations Through the Reading of Water
Thunderbird Room, Classroom A
Forrest Bruce (Ojibwe), Felicia Peters (Menominee & Santo Domingo Pueblo)

In this presentation we will share work from the Indigenous STEAM program (led by Dr. Megan Bang) highlighting ways that the program fostered youth’s literacy in reading waters and, in doing so, helped cultivate their relationships with water. The presentation will focus specifically on an arc of learning involving the Chicago River as well as the Puget Sound in Seattle. We will also share educational tools and materials from the program.

Engaging with Illinois Education House Bill 4548
Lake Michigan Room, Main Hall
Andrew Johnson (Cherokee Nation)

In January 2022, House Bill 4548 was introduced to the Illinois legislature regarding school curriculum and Native American history, however, there was no involvement from the greater American Indian community of our state.   We have a unique opportunity to influence our legislators and State Board of Education as to the content of the bill.  Please join us to learn about the current status, voice your opinion and be a part of the solution going forward.

Using an Equity and Inclusion Lens to Review Forest Preserve Site Names
Maple Room, Classroom B
Raquel Garcia-Alvarez, Michelle Uting

The session will cover the infrastructure and policies that the Forest Preserves has put into place to ensure that the naming and renaming of sites is done thoughtfully and with public input and review. The Forest Preserves of Cook County will share its efforts to ensure that residents and visitors feel welcome and safe in the preserves and that none of its preserve names memorialize persons or events that are counter to its mission and values.

Saturday, April 23, 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm

Otter, and the Olive Tree Picture Book
Thunderbird Room, Classroom A
Lynn Long (Ojibwa)

Otter, and the Olive Tree is a picture book that depicts the story of a little boy who had a pet Otter and discovered 10 items along a river in a dry parched land on his reservation. As each page is presented, it will creatively outline each number tying to Ojibwa language and cultural perspective. By incorporating the importance of water, it will also provide ten-character lessons in the classroom integrated throughout each slide and illustrated page.

ICWA 101 Community Education
Maple Room, Classroom B
Ryann Unabia (Turtle Mountain Chippewa)

“ICWA 101 – Community Piece” will be presented by ICWA Specialist Ryann Unabia. The presentation will consist of a brief overview on the Indian Child Welfare Act for the community perspective. Highlights include defining ICWA, the importance of ICWA, and examples of situations where ICWA applies.

Forrest Bruce (Ojibwe)

Forrest Bruce (Ojibwe) is a PhD student in the Learning Sciences at Northwestern University. He is broadly interested in land-based education and the design of community-based learning environments that support Indigenous ways of knowing and being. He received a BS in Social Policy from Northwestern University and worked in Chicago Public Schools’ American Indian Education Program (Title 6) for a year before joining the ISTEAM research project, first as a research coordinator then later as a graduate student.

David Deloso

Student, Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University

Raquel Garcia-Alvarez

Raquel (she, her) is a Program Coordinator at the Forest Preserves of Cook County. She focuses on operationalizing racial equity and facilitating trainings for staff and partners. She is a steward and co-leads Latinx stewardship days.

She founded the Environmentalists of Color (EOC) network. Raquel has a Master’s in Environment and Natural Resource Management from the University of Iceland and a Bachelor’s in Animal Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Patty Loew (Mashkiiziibii–Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe)

Patty Loew, Ph.D., is a journalism professor and was inaugural director of the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research at Northwestern University. A citizen of Mashkiiziibii– the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, Dr. Loew is a former broadcast journalist in public and commercial television. She is the author of four books, including Indian Nations of Wisconsin and Native people of Wisconsin, used by 20,000 school children as a social studies textbook.

Lynn Long (Ojibwa)

I am a Tribal member on the Lac Du Flambeau Indian reservation in northern Wisconsin. I am currently completing my Curriculum, Advocacy and Policy doctoral program at National Louis University in Wheeling, IL. Personal interests including Chalk-drawing and photography. My involvements also include working with youth and mentoring Native American students in higher education. Also, pursuing growth in my 501c3 Warm the Warriors project helps meet impoverished needs of tribal members on various US reservations.

Maya Mojica

Student, Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University

Felicia Peters (Menominee and Santo Domingo Pueblo)

Felicia Peters is happy to join ISTEAM as a Program Coordinator. She has worked with ISTEAM and the Chicago Native American Community for over 15 years. Felicia credits ISTEAM for motivating her towards education and becoming a teacher. Since 2015, Felicia has taught Middle School Math and Science in Chicago Public Schools and will miss the classroom but is looking forward to working with Indigenous communities focusing on our homelands, our ancestors and our relatives. Felicia’s son Derrick has also grown up as part of ISTEAM and continues to build relationships with his plant and animal relatives through activities learned through ISTEAM.

Koji Taylor

Student, Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University

Ryann Unabia (Turtle Mountain Chippewa)

Ryann is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. She is an Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) specialist for Illinois’ Department of Children and Family Services. Ryann proudly serves as a liaison between the government, social services, the Native community, and tribal entities.

Ryann started serving the Native community in high school, as a volunteer youth mentor on a reservation. As a withdrawal management center supervisor, she advocated for more health and social services to be provided to community members struggling with substance abuse. Ryann has displayed strong child development ethics while being a teacher for her tribe. Ryann participates in a nationwide Native leadership academy, where she works on increasing leadership skills and confidence in Native adolescents.

Ryann values education and is pursuing a graduate degree in clinical child psychology. Ryann envisions a future where the youth of the Native community, including her own daughter, are more holistically empowered.

Michelle Uting

Michelle Uting (she/her) is the Forest Preserves of Cook County’s grant administrator and works to secure funding for projects that restore human and natural communities. Before joining the Preserves, Michelle was membership and government outreach manager with Chicago Wilderness. Prior to Chicago Wilderness, Michelle spent 12 years working in the non-profit performing arts field, coordinating local and international artist collaborations. She completed her undergraduate degree in literature at University of Illinois at Chicago.

Proposal Submission Deadline: Feb 25, 2022 Deadline extended to Friday, March 4, 2022!
Presenters Notified: March 18, 2022
Registration Opens: March 21, 2022
Pre-recorded Video Sessions Due: April 7, 2022
Conference Dates: April 21-23, 2022

Vendor/Information Table Contact: Form Here

Chantay Moore,, call or text 312-561-6403


For additional questions, contact Education Committee Co-Chairs:

Josee Starr:
Ronnie Preston:

A special thank you to all of our sponsors for without their support, this conference would not have been possible:

American Indian Center Incorporated 

Chicago Public School American Indian Education Program

Field Museum

Native American Support Program, the University of Illinois at Chicago

Northwestern University

Mitchell Museum of the American Indian

St. Kateri Center

Visionary Ventures