Native American Education

Xwelemi Chosen


Smak i’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 Ferndale High School for eight years. Smak i’ya provides Xwlemi Chosen language and culture instruction for Ferndale High and to Horizon Middle School students. We are proud to be one of a few Washington High Schools that offers a native language course. Smak i’ya also provides culture and art enrichment to our after school clubs including teaching flute making.


We offer Oksale class to Ferndale High School. Oksale means “teacher” in Xwlemi Chosen (Lummi Language). The goal of this class is to introduce and explore Native American humanities and leadership. 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.

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.

Ches Kwin

The “Ches Kwin” Club is student organization that started over 35 years ago at Ferndale High. Horizon and Vista middle schools offer student clubs that include culture and leadership activities.

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

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 Ferndale High's graduation ceremony for the past 16 years. Its appointed officers drive the leadership of the club.

Native American Education Contacts

Janessa Strube
Vista Lummi Language Teacher
Horizon Lummi Language Teacher
(360) 383-9370

Carla Lawrence
Horizon Student Advisor
Eagleridge Elementary Student Advisor

Alex Martinez
FHS Student Advisor

Josh Shimek
Horizon Leadership Class & Academic Support
(360) 383-9886

LeTisha Spotted-Eagle
Skyline Elementary & Eagleridge Elementary Student Advisor

Matt Warbus
Lummi Language/ Oksale Teacher
(360) 383-9240/ 9850

Dr. Paul Douglas
Executive Director of Student Services
(360) 383-9221