Spring 2019 Community Partnership Programs Update

Spring 2019 Community Partnership Programs Update

Xperitas partnerships with universities and North American indigenous communities

University groups from Carroll University and University of Tennessee-Knoxville joined Xperitas this spring to stay and work with North American indigenous communities.

Our community partnerships, nurtured over many years, offer our participants a local perspective by meeting and learning from community members in an authentic way. Xperitas partners with higher education institutions and their faculty to design customized service-learning programs alongside our partner communities. This spring, Xperitas partnered with Carroll University (Waukesha, Wisconsin) and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, to help their students get to know our Anishinaabe partners on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota and our Quileute partners in La Push, Washington.

Seeds of Hope: White Earth Community Partnership with Carroll College

White Earth Reservation is in Becker, Clearwater, and Mahnomen counties in north-central Minnesota. Created in 1867 by a treaty between the United States and the Mississippi Band of Chippewa Indians, it is one of seven Chippewa reservations in Minnesota. Although the White Earth Chippewa no longer live as their ancestors did, they have kept alive their tribal heritage. Almost every aspect of their present-day life has been strongly influenced by the past.

Our group, accompanied by Xperitas staff member Tyrel Nelson, was made up of students from Carroll University. They spent a great deal of their week on community gardening projects and helping the elders with their individual gardens. At the elders’ houses, the Xperitas group helped till the soil, add new dirt, and spread moss and chicken manure.

A cultural highlight was visiting Joe at the Gizhiigin Arts Incubator, a project of the White Earth Reservation Tribal Council's Economic Development Division. Gizhiigin, which means "grow fast" in Anishinaabemowin, opened in 2015. Their Mission is to promote local artists and assist them with their skills development and marketplace goals.

The following day, the group had lunch at the Niijii Radio Station. Grace Waawaate-Ikwe Roberts greeted the group and thanked them for their help in the community – and gave them a chance to talk on the air! At the conclusion of their visit to the radio station, our group was invited to participate in sacred cedar tree plantings at three different powwow grounds, as part of the White Earth Land Recovery Project. Watch the radio station interview on Facebook!

Team Leader and Xperitas staff member Tyrel Nelson – wrote an extended Thank You to the Carroll students and to members of the White Earth community after the program If you are interested in reading that, you can find it here.

Looking to the Past to Build the Future: La Push Community Partnership Program with University of Tennessee-Knoxville, May 2019

In May, Xperitas Director of Community Partnership Programs Brooke Marchewka led a group of nine honors students and their faculty leader from University of Tennesse, Knoxville to La Push, Washington. During the weeklong program, our group was warmly welcomed to stay in the center of the community in the Shaker Church dining hall. Each day, the group explored a little bit of the beauty that is the Pacific Northwest, as well as met many people in the community. Over the course of the week, our group:  

  • Toured the Tribal Hatchery as well as the state hatchery, to have a comparative lens of how the tribe versus the state sustains their fish population (mainly varieties of salmon)
  • Visited the Makah Museum (which has Native American artifacts dating back hundreds of years), went hiking in the Hoh Rainforest, and looked out from Cape Flattery (most northwestern point in the continental U.S.)
  • Played basketball, kickball and board games with teens (ages 13-18) at the Tribal Teen Center
  • Learned beadmaking from tribal members
  • Accompanied tribal members and Dept. of Natural Resources staff on the annual cedar bark harvest, helped to peel the bark, and saw how it is utilized to make traditional cedar woven baskets
  • Volunteered at the Elder Center to help make lunch for the seniors
  • Learned how to fillet freshly caught halibut
  • Scoured several beaches for shells, colorful rocks, starfish, and anemones admired the whale spouts, sea lions, and abundant bald eagle
  • Hosted a final celebration that included community members who sang and drummed for us, and even invited us to drum with them 


Our group was honored to be asked to be participate in the tribe’s cedar bark harvest. Cedar bark is used by the Quileute for many purposes, including weaving baskets and fashioning traditional clothing. We peeled the bark in large strips and learned how to eat the sprouts.


On our last night in La Push, we hosted a farewell celebration at the Senior Center to thank community members for welcoming us, complete with homemade chili and drumming. Looking back, we were constantly in motion, and yet we had a phenomenal opportunity to spend time getting to know community members on a deep level. When a student asked a community member, Frank, what he thought the differences were between regular tourists and our group, he said that we were different because Xperitas groups come to La Push with a sense of respect for his people and a curiosity to learn about Quileute culture.  

We would like to thank the group for respectful presence and open hearts, and of course we wish a huge thank you to the Quileute Tribe for sharing their knowledge and wisdom with us and for inviting us into their community. 

Did you know … Offices of Study Abroad, Service-Learning, Multicultural Services, International Students Services or Alternative Spring Breaks can partner with Xperitas to design a custom faculty-led program that best fits their unique educational goals and student needs. Our programs can be aligned with a variety of class topics and disciplines, such as language, communication, social work, architecture, education, medical, cross-cultural relations and many more. 

Additionally, colleges and universities can collaborate with Xperitas as a preferred vendor for students interested in participating individually on our publicly posted programs. Participants from partner institutions may have access to discounted program prices.