October 11, 2006

Integrating Indian ed

Schools struggle to integrate Indian ed into classroomsIndian Education for All is a state law passed in 1999 that requires Montana schools to teach all students about the state's American Indian tribes and reservations. It expanded upon a 1972 provision in the Montana Constitution recognizing the cultural heritage of the state's Indian tribes and committing the state to educational goals designed to preserve their identity.

"The idea is not to somehow show Indian people in isolation, but to show them as part of the big circle of life," Anderson said.

Literature is just one area in which Helena High is integrating American Indian culture this year, Anderson said. Freshman social studies classes will study the cultures of Montana's tribes. Sophomore biology classes will study plants used for medicinal purposes by the tribes. Senior government classes will look into modern issues such as tribal sovereignty and treaty law.


Kai said...

This is, at least, at beginning. Long overdue, but indeed a beginning. Maybe there will FINALLY come a time when our 'history' is not merely an association with ''good Indians' at Thanksgiving or a reference to 'bad Indians' who killed Custer. Holy Buffalo, we Comanches WERE a feast or famine tribe as far as EATING was concerned, but I'd just as soon that NOT apply to our history. Good for Montana.

Rob said...

Yes. The move to integrate Indian history and culture into all aspects of schoolwork is long overdue and welcome.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
The telling point is that it took six years before any funding at all finally was provided for the implementation of "Indian Education For All." But, as said above, it is a beginning.
Not to beat his own drum too loudly, writerfella would hope that NATIVE AMERICAN LITERATURE, ed. by LaWana Trout, NTC Publishers 1999, might end up as one of the textbook choices. In that volume, ranked among excellent stories, poems, and essays of 56 other Native writers from Momaday to Alexie, is writerfella's most famous and many-times reprinted science fiction short story, "Rite Of Encounter". The volume already is a standard text for literature, writing, and Native history classes at various tribal and government boarding schools. Elsewhere, "Rite Of Encounter" is regular fare for teachers taking Native instruction courses at The Newberry Library and is included in dozens of public and private school courses as well as college and university curricula in Native Studies and American Literature. That one story first appeared in print in 1973 in THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION and never has been out of print since that time. It now even has a chance to become a short film, to be done by Charles 'Boots' Kennedye's Crazy Kiowa Productions in the next year or so. It will outlive its author, writerfella, who is happy about it all the same.
All Best
Russ Bates

Rob said...

If and when "Rite Of Encounter" gets made into a film, be sure to let us and the folks at NativeVue.org know.