A small middle school comprised of 12 students raised more than $2,800 for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, a holiday that has increasingly come to replace Columbus Day, in October.
The walkathon fundraiser by students from the Four Winds School in Gill, Massachusetts, grew out of social studies lessons focusing on Massachusetts history.
“All last year in our social studies curriculum we studied the relation between Pilgrims and local native tribes and the colonization of this continent in general,” said Jyn Rankin, an 8th grader at the Four Winds School.
“We kind of decided we wanted to do something about reparations,” the student said.
Staff helped to facilitate the fundraiser, but let the students decide the specifics of the event, said Becca Lipton, the director of the school.
Students considered raising money for organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, using fundraising models such as selling student artwork or holding a readathon before settling on a walkathon for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, Ms. Lipton said.
Ms. Rankin, who walked 10 miles, said the students eventually decided to raise money for the Mashpee Wampanoag because “we heard they were one of the first tribes that the Pilgrims interacted with.”
About 25 individuals participated in the walk, which took place outside the school on a makeshift track on Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Donors pledged a set rate for every lap walked by those participating. Ms. Rankin raised $408, she said.
“We can make a very big difference even though we’re not old enough to vote,” Ms. Rankin said of the money she and her class raised.
Ms. Lipton said that the fundraiser, “embodies what we want to be teaching [our students] about activism and being involved in the community.”
The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has invited the Four Winds School to visit Mashpee, said Patricia (Trish) Keli’inui, a communications manager with the tribe.
“Their gesture is simply humbling especially given their age and their ability to recognize our community in such a way,” Ms. Keli’inui said.