Grant to put more Indian history in classes

Pierre, South Dakota (AP) 9-08

The state Education Department will look at ways to include more Native American history and culture in classes taught in South Dakota school districts, officials said.

The Indian Land Tenure Foundation, which works to protect American Indian land, is providing the Education Department with a $40,000 grant to help establish a steering committee that will develop topics to be added to existing standards and class curriculum.

“This grant will allow us to weave the important story of the Dakota, Lakota and Nakota people into the state’s standards and assessment system,” Keith Moore, state director of Indian education, said in a written statement. “Historically, we haven’t had solid understanding across cultures in South Dakota. We are excited about this opportunity to raise the knowledge and understanding of our young people.”


The steering committee will include educators and representatives from each of South Dakota’s nine Sioux tribes. The panel will develop curriculum teachers can use in classrooms.

South Dakota’s content standards now include some specific items related to Indian history and culture, but those items often are social studies classes, Moore said. The grant will allow the state to expand teaching about Indian history and culture into other areas, such as language, science and even math.

“For too long, mainstream education has avoided its obligation to teach the story of Native American peoples,” said Terry Janis, an officer of the Indian Land Tenure Foundation and an Oglala Lakota from the Pine Ridge reservation.

Janis said he’s encouraged by the effort in South Dakota, where more than 11 percent of public school students are Native American.