North Dakota to Integrate Native American History Into Schools

April 19, 2017

The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction plans to integrate Native American culture and history into classroom instruction as part of a project that compiled interviews of Native American elders in the state. In addition, culturally relevant lesson plans and other curriculum were developed for teachers to use.

DPI launched its Native American Essential Understanding Project in 2015, which is a mirror of Montana's Indian Education For All program and the WoLakota project in South Dakota, according to Lucy Fredericks, director of DPI's office of Indian and multicultural education.

The first half of the project included interviews of elders from four federally recognized tribes in North Dakota: the Fort Berthold, Turtle Mountain, Spirit Lake and Standing Rock reservations. These elders identified seven "essential understandings" that all students, Native and non-Native, across the state should know about the tribes.

“I think it’s been something that we’ve needed to have,” Fredericks said. "There have been pockets here and there, like teachers teaching about Native Americans in North Dakota, but it’s usually only during Native American month or during a unit. But what we would like to see is for it to be included in all content areas, all grade levels.”

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