Teachers to look at culture, history during summit for Indian educationOACOMA — Teachers gathering at this year’s South Dakota Indian education summit will dig into the state’s new standards for teaching American Indian culture and history.
By: KRISTI EATON , Associated Press
OACOMA — Teachers gathering at this year’s South Dakota Indian education summit will dig into the state’s new standards for teaching American Indian culture and history.
About 600 educators are expected at the three day event that starts Sunday in Oacoma. A major emphasis will be the Oceti Sakowin standards adopted by the state Board of Education in July, said Roger Campbell, the state’s Indian education director. The standards are intended to set what public school students should know about South Dakota’s Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people.
Examples of the standards include teaching high school students to use knowledge of the stars to identify sacred sites within the Black Hills, elementary school students to compare the Oceti Sakowin to the mainstream family structure and second-graders to understand the passing of time through family lineage.
The developers of the standards have said they also hope learning more about Indian culture helps all of South Dakota’s citizens get along better. And Campbell said they should make history more interesting to some American Indian students who haven’t felt connected with the U.S. history being generally taught in schools.
“By not seeing a reflection of them and their peoples’ history, I think you lose some of that relevancy and keeping them engaged,” he said.
John W. Tippeconnic III, director of American Indian Studies at Arizona State University, said culture and language continues to be a barrier for Indian students in the classroom as more emphasis is placed on math and science.
“I think what’s new today is we’re in a period of accountability and standards with No Child Left Behind that focuses on reading, math, science and technology, and it’s hard to build in at times a focus on language and culture if we don’t see a viable connection between the two,” said Tippeconnic.