- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 19, 2017

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota plans to integrate Native American culture and history into lesson plans and curriculum at public schools statewide.

The state Department of Public Instruction’s plans are similar to programs in South Dakota and Montana. It’s part of the Native American Essential Understanding Project, which launched in 2015, and includes interviews with elders from the Fort Berthold, Turtle Mountain, Spirit Lake and Standing Rock tribes. The elders identified seven areas of study for students.

“I think it’s been something that we’ve needed to have,” the department’s multicultural education director, Lucy Fredericks, said. “There have been pockets here and there, like teachers teaching about Native Americans in North Dakota, but it’s usually only during Native American month … What we would like to see is for it to be included in all content areas, all grade levels.”

On Tuesday, the department held the second part of its two-day training session for educators in Bismarck.

The next steps of the project will be professional development for teachers and to implement lesson plans and curriculum into all schools in North Dakota, Fredericks told The Bismarck Tribune (https://bit.ly/2orWfn5 ) reported.

“We have almost a 10 percent Native American (student) population in North Dakota . so, why not develop culturally relevant curriculum or awareness for all schools in North Dakota?” Fredericks said.

State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said the project also aims to boost graduation rates of Native American students.

“Our belief is that there’s a link,” Baesler said. “When we are able to become more culturally sensitive and have our teachers have a better understanding of what our Native American students have experienced, or what their culture and beliefs are, that they’ll be better able to teach them.”

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, https://www.bismarcktribune.com

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