Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America
August 26, 2000 - Issue 17

School News
gathered by Vicki Lockard

With this issue, we are adding a new feature to Canku Ota. The information here will include items of interest for and about Native American schools. If you have news to share, please let us know! I can be reached by emailing:

Private Southern Ute Indian Academy Set To Open

IGNACIO, Colo. Some Southern Ute tribal members who believe their children aren't well served by public schools will have an alternative this year.

The Southern Ute Indian Academy, a private school funded by the tribe, is scheduled to open Sept. 5, though only 36 percent of the school's capacity has been filled.

The building scheduled to open Sept. 5 will serve 3 to 9-year-old tribal members. A building to serve children up to 3 years old will open in mid-September, tribal leaders said.

The school is slated to expand its offerings to include 9 to 13-year-olds in fall 2001 pending tribal approval, said Diane Millich-Olguin, the tribe's director of private education.

Tribal leaders have said the school is a necessary alternative for tribal members' children enrolled in the Ignacio School District. The school, which will use the Montessori teaching method, has a classroom to teach the Ute language and a fine arts room to teach American Indian dance and other cultural arts.

With full enrollment of 168, the tribal school would employ 34 teachers.

Experts Develop Cherokee Curriculum

NORMAN — Over the last couple of weeks, twenty public school teachers from across the fourteen county area of the Cherokee Nation have been sequestered at the U.S. Postal Training Center in Norman, Oklahoma, writing and developing a comprehensive, culturally accurate Cherokee curriculum for use in public schools.

The curriculum will include Cherokee Nation History and incorporate Cherokee culture into other subject matter. The teachers are developing age appropriate material for students ranging from kindergarteners to high school students. The end product will be introduced and displayed during the upcoming Cherokee National Holiday and be ready for distribution to schools this fall.

Changes Coming to California Education

The California State Senate unanimously passed SB 1439 by a vote of 29-0. The bill has now passed to the California State Assembly's Education Committee.

SB 1439 is attempting to change the way information about Native Americans and tribal entities is taught in California's public schools' K-12 curriculum. It will primarily focus on history and civics courses. Many tribal leaders say the current curriculum largely ignores modern Native Americans and distorts their histories.

The bill, sponsored by Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante and introduced by Sen. De De Alpert, D-San Diego, would appropriate nearly $100,000 from the General Fund to contract with as yet unnamed individuals in the appropriate academic field(s). The academics, Alpert says, would be chosen through a "competitive process."

Alpert says the academics selected would develop a curriculum that accurately portrays Native Americans and tribal governments as contemporary as opposed to historical entities. The curriculum would be submitted to the California Department of Education to be put to a consensus and disseminated to local districts.

"The entire process will take about a year to fully develop. It will be tied to the California Standards of Education," Alpert says.

Connecticut State Guide Will Help To Teach History From Indian Viewpoint

Connecticut students will get a different view of Native American history this academic year, one related by Indians.

The state Department of Education has completed a teacher resource guide, “the Native Americans of Connecticut,” and distributed 3,000 copies of it to educators.

“We wrestled hard, making sure whatever statements we made were accurate to the best of our current knowledge,” said Daniel W. Gregg, a social studies consultant for the state school board, who worked with educators and Native Americans to write the new resource guide.

The resource manuals for teachers were mandated by the 1997 General Assembly.

“It's just wonderful,” said Sandra Pineault, program coordinator for the Mohegan Tribe's Museum Authority and a member of the advisory committee that wrote the Native American guide. “These are our stories, and they tell you who we are.”



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