Indian Education for All … Cultural Learning Goes On All Year Long
September 22, 2014
As you drive around town, you may see signs of Helena’s earlier history like the Fire Tower or tailings from an old gold mine or even a teepee on the Hawthorne Elementary School playground. All year long, but especially this week, Helena’s students are learning about Montana’s first people. The photo of an Indian camp at the base of Mount Helena reminds us why our Legislature in 1997 designated the fourth Friday of September as American Indian Heritage Day to recognize Montana's constitutional commitment to preserve the cultural integrity of American Indians.
The district has integrated Indian Education for All throughout the curriculum. Students learn not only about the rich history of tribes in Montana, but gain a better understanding of contemporary issues involving American Indians and their sovereign nations.
Annually, the Last Chance Pow Wow is held in conjunction with American Indian Heritage Day. The first day of this celebration, which also always falls on the fourth Friday of September, is designated as a “demonstration day”. While the events of this day are opened to the public, the Helena School District arranges for 4th grade students to attend the Pow Wow’s Demonstration Day. This is due to the large emphasis that 4th grade teaching and learning places on Montana History.
District-wide, a variety of classroom activities linked to Indian Education also take place during this day. Native American singing and dancing demonstrations are taking place in schools and classrooms throughout the district in the weeks leading up to and immediately following this event. Further, the school district owns a teepee that will be displayed at several schools throughout the year. When the teepee is hosted by a school, teachers schedule times to take their classes out and conduct lessons inside the teepee.
This Friday, September 26th is American Indian Heritage Day. I encourage everyone to get involved and join our students as they take advantage of the events of this day to learn from some hands-on activities that highlight this year-long embedded curriculum. If you want to learn more about Indian Education for All, please check out this Office of Public Instruction link to explore a wide array of videos, stories and more. http://opi.mt.gov/programs/indianed/IEFAvideo.html#gpm1_1
Kent Kultgen, Ed.D.
P.S. Last week my column featured district Advisory Committees. The Parent Advisory Committee meets the second Tuesday of the month from 1:00 – 2:00 pm. The Teacher Advisory Committee meets the second Thursday of the month from 3:50 - 5:00. The Community Advisory Council meets the 2nd Friday of the month at 8 am.