Native American Education

Picture of Oksale students


xwlemi chosen  

Smak l’ya’ (Matt Warbus) has been teaching Lummi Language in Ferndale School District since 2001.  Prior to Smak I’ya’, Mr. John Bill brought Lummi Lanuage to FHS for 8 years.  Smak I’ya” provides Xwlemi Chosen language and culture instruction for Ferndale HS and new this year, to Horizon MS students.  Cynthia Wilson, provides Xwlemi Chosen (language and culture) instruction to Vista MS.  This is our first year of providing middle school language classes.  We are proud to be one of 7 Washington High Schools that offers a native language course.  Smak I’ya’ also provides culture and art enrichment to our Oksale class including teaching flute making.


This is an exciting year as we are offering our second year of Oksale class to Ferndale High School! Oksale: Native Cultural Learning Through Leadership. Oksalemeans “teacher” in Xwlemi Chosen (Lummi Language). The goal of this class is to introduce and explore Native American humanities and leadership. We integrate the Since Time Immemorial: Tribal Sovereignty in Washington State Curriculum which is an inquiry-based, place-based, and integrative approach to learning. We participate in team-teaching to integrate different skills and knowledge to create a well-rounded learning experience. Community members are invited and encouraged to come into the classroom to share their talents in order to offer up engaging learning opportunities for the students.

Horizon Middle School is offering  a first year of  leadership and study course with an intention of improving our middle to high school transition.

This class also includes learning through leadership which involves mentoring/tutoring younger students, as well as participating in community service learning opportunities. The mentoring program includes teambuilding activities with eighth grade students in order to build a connection and relationship, which will provide an ease of transition into their high school years. Students also work with elementary students in their classroom to act as an “oksale” by teaching them cultural lessons. Serving the community is important to our students, so we are always looking for opportunities to lend a hand to support those around us.

“During Oksale you learn about treaties, and you don’t get to do that in any other class. Learning about treaties is interesting and something different from any other class.” –Adam Bob
“I think it is really cool that we get to mentor younger students.” –Stella Gladstone
“Oksale is a great class. I learn a lot about my culture and we also learn to be an active member of our community, to be leaders.” –Nancy Jefferson
“Some people give up because of slow progress, not realizing that progress is progress. So don’t give up, just remember why you have gone this
far.” –Alex Phair
students working on flute-making
Matt Warbus teaches flute making.
Mentoring at Middle School - group of students
Mentoring at middle school.
Students examining a salamander
Students examine salamander.



The “Ches Kwin” Club is student organization that started over thirty-five years ago at FHS. This year Horizon Middle School is offering a middle school club.Native whale print

“Ches Kwin” stands for Golden Eagle in Xwlemi’ Chosen and Golden Eagle is the mascot of FHS.

Members continue the mission of the original founders by traveling to different schools to speak or dance at cultural assemblies.  Students also go into social study and language classes to speak on the Washington State history from the American Indian perspective. We are an active club willing to do community service and fundraise for special events. The club has participated in FHS graduation ceremony for the past sixteen years. Its appointed officers drive the leadership of the club.


The “Tsemts’emoye” (Hornet) Club is a student organization designed to recognize, celebrate and promote our native and Coast Salish cultures. The club acts as a resource for students and provide a place for social interaction with all Horizon students inteNative hornet print.rested in increasing their knowledge of native heritage. Throughout the school year, our club will sponsor guest speakers, field trips, and other cultural events. Our goal is to unify, strengthen and recognize Coast Salish heritage at Horizon. We serve the needs of native students by providing the support needed to make school life more relevant. We strive to increase retention rates, improve attendance and broaden our knowledge of Coast Salish heritage.

Native American Education Contacts

Kiah Hooper
Skyline Elementary Student Advisor

Ashia Smock
Eagleridge Elementary Student Advisor

Ashley Hunt
FHS Student/Family Liaison

Aaron Thomas
Horizon Student Advisor

Alex Martinez
Vista Student Advisor
360 383-9376

Josh Shimek
Horizon Leadership Class & Academic Support

LeTisha Spotted-Eagle
FHS Student Support

Matt Warbus
Lummi Language/ Oksale  Instructor
360-383-9240/ 9850

Jill Iwasaki
Executive Director of Student Services