Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Spreading awareness in schools about South Dakota’s American Indian culture

By Fred Osborne, Director, South Dakota Office of Indian Education 

The South Dakota Office of Indian Education and the Wóokiye Project, a Bush Foundation grant project, would like to share some of our upcoming events and initiatives.

One of our primary goals is to spread awareness and education in schools about South Dakota’s unique American Indian culture. We are in the process of sending educational kits promoting the Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings and Standards to every school across the state.

Grade schools have received a copy of Muskrat and Skunk by Donald F. Montileaux. The book provides an illustrated story of the origin of the Lakota drum in the Oceti Sakowin culture. Muskrat and Skunk is written in both English and Lakota to give a language and cultural experience to children.

Middle and high schools will receive copies of The Lakota Way by Joseph M. Marshall III. Through traditional stories, the book provides a deeper understanding of the 12 Lakota virtues that are crucial to the Lakota way of living: bravery, fortitude, generosity, wisdom, respect, honor, perseverance, love, humility, sacrifice, truth, and compassion.

Additionally, schools received two sets of poster maps and magnets representing all nine reservations in South Dakota, as well as information on Native titles and educational kits available from the South Dakota State Historical Society. Using the maps and magnets, students are able to identify and locate reservations and their locations using an interactive teaching tool.

Through these educational kits, we aim to provide students with more insight and knowledge about the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota history and culture. Coupled with the Lakota Virtue Videos told by Lakota and Dakota elders, available free through our office, teachers have useful resources to engage student learning of the Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings and Standards.

Each year, we host an annual summit for educators and students to learn more about tools and resources to ensure that today’s Native youth can achieve success both in school and in society. The Office of Indian Education will host the 2023 South Dakota Indian Education Summit Nov. 16-18 at the Crossroads Event Center in Huron. The summit will kick off on Thursday, Nov. 16, and continue into the weekend for a youth day on Saturday, Nov. 18. Youth Day is designed for K-12 students. Please visit our website for more information about the summit.

For those who have not visited our website, I encourage you to do so. We have abundant resources including lesson plans, videos, scholarships, and much more.

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