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Letter from the Secretary
SD Department of Education Oct. 2016  
Letter from the Secretary

October 10 is Native Americans’ Day in South Dakota. I hope you will take time to do something special on or around this day to recognize the contributions of South Dakota’s Native American culture and heritage. I also encourage you to incorporate this learning throughout the school year.

As a state, we have a significant resource in our Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings and Standards, which are intended to help guide K-12 educators in teaching about Native American history, culture and heritage. Oceti Sakowin means “Seven Council Fires” and refers collectively to the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people. This summer, a work group that included Native American elders developed social studies lessons aligned to the OSEUs, which can be accessed on the WoLakota Project website.

The WoLakota Project website provides a wealth of other resources as well, including video interviews with Lakota, Dakota and Nakota elders discussing their perspectives on the things they deem essential about the culture, history, language, practices and lifestyles of the people of the Seven Council Fires.

It was over 25 years ago that the second Monday in October was designated Native Americans’ Day in South Dakota. It is exciting to see how the resources available to help our state’s educators teach their students about Native American history and culture have expanded since then.

As always, thank you for your dedication to South Dakota students.


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