Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Building on Yesterday, Looking to Tomorrow

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Building on Yesterday, Looking to Tomorrow

Article excerpt

WITH THE return of Montana's K-12 public school students to classrooms across the state this fall, teachers are presenting new and exciting instructional programs. Students are learning about American Indians, in particular those in Montana. Teachers from the smallest one-room schools to our largest urban schools will incorporate into all curriculum areas content about Montana's 12 tribes--their history, government systems, fine arts, oral traditions, and contemporary issues.

It is an exciting time in Montana for everyone who has worked diligently for so many years to breathe life into the constitutional promise made in 1972. Indian Education for All (IEFA) has traveled a long and winding road. At times it has been a smooth trail filled with high expectations. At other points, there were unexpected corners and challenging hills to overcome. We even ran out of gas a few times or got stuck in some muddy ruts, where we spun our wheels. Most important, on several occasions, we had to carve out our own road and provide a new direction.

Indian people have understood for a great many years that it is only by educating our young people that we can reclaim our history and only through culturally responsive education that we will preserve our cultural integrity. Through IEFA, non-Indian children will also grow to understand and respect the significance of these issues in the lives of their Indian peers. When the law is fully implemented, K-12 students will learn an accurate and authentic history of our state from all perspectives.

Today, Indian people are again hopeful that their history and culture will be respected by our education systems so that Indian students in any K-12 school or college in Montana will see themselves reflected in textbooks. …

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