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For Immediate Release: July 25, 2011
Contact: Mary Stadick Smith - (605) 773-7228

Board adopts standards for teaching American Indian culture, history

The South Dakota Board of Education today adopted the Oceti Sakowin* Essential Understandings and Standards outlining core concepts for teaching the history and culture of South Dakota’s American Indian people.

The 2007 Indian Education Act mandated the development of course content for curriculum in South Dakota American Indian history and culture. The core concepts were developed by a work group consisting of educators across the state. Work began in September 2008 after the Department of Education was awarded a grant from the Indian Land Tenure Foundation. A second group then developed standards based on those core concepts.

The standards outline grade-level specific activities and resources for teaching the standards.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard addressed the Board of Education today and spoke in favor of adopting the standards.

"Students are more engaged when they find the curriculum relevant," Gov. Dennis Daugaard said. "It's important for Native students to have that relevancy, but it's also equally important for our non-Native students to have a better understanding of the cultural background of the state."

The essential understandings will serve as guides for South Dakota teachers from this point forward.

“This is an important first step in the process,” said Roger Campbell, the South Dakota Department of Education’s director of Indian education. “Our long-term goal is to infuse these concepts into the South Dakota state standards and develop curriculum and resources to support them.”


* Oceti (Ô-ch-tç) Sakowin (Shah-kô-wç)