One of my favorite sectionals was listening to two of the Elders, Minerva Allen and Lois Red Elk present their own poetry. I wish it there had been a recording of this Poetry Reading . The last poem that Lois Red Elk presented was haunting. Her delivery mesmerizing. To have both women together sharing their writing was a once in a lifetime experience.
Teachers shared what works in their classroom, educators from elementary all the way through college. Presenters from the Montana Historical Society were also there. I came away not only with new literature to use but new ways of sharing it in my classroom. I am excited!
Montana's Constitution mandates the study of American Indians. We have started by learning about the tribes in our own state first.
This is a section from the Montana Constitution that discusses Indian Education For All -
Recognition of American Indian cultural heritage -- legislative intent.
(1) It is the constitutionally declared policy of this state to recognize the distinct and unique
cultural heritage of American Indians and to be committed in its educational goals to the
preservation of their cultural heritage.
(2) It is the intent of the legislature that in accordance with Article X, section 1(2), of the
(a) Every Montanan, whether Indian or non-Indian, be encouraged to learn about the
distinct and unique heritage of American Indians in a culturally responsive manner; and
(b) Every educational agency and all educational personnel will work cooperatively with
Montana tribes or those tribes that are in close proximity, when providing instruction or
when implementing an educational goal or adopting a rule related to the education of
each Montana citizen, to include information specific to the cultural heritage and
contemporary contributions of American Indians, with particular emphasis on Montana
Indian tribal groups and governments.
(3) It is also the intent of this part, predicated on the belief that all school personnel should have
an understanding and awareness of Indian tribes to help them relate effectively with Indian
students and parents, that educational personnel provide means by which school personnel will
gain an understanding of and appreciation for the American Indian people.
People ask me,"Why should the study of Montana's Indians be mandatory? Why not their heritage - English, Irish, Spanish, German etc?" The short answer is you can go to the country of your heritage and learn about that culture. America is the home and only place you will find most of these tribes. It's about expanding cultural awareness for all Montana citizens. It is also about hearing the other voices of our history.
Indian Education For All is one of my passions.