was inspired to be a part of the Native Threads meeting at the Minnesota
Humanities Center today (Oct. 1 - ed.), a meeting designed to build
awareness about the work and projects we are doing as Indian Educators
with potential sponsors for our important work. Also, we met to
address the achievement/opportunity gap for Native students and
to see where there might be opportunities to build partnerships.
It was a grassroots meeting that will include a much larger voice
in the days to come.
We met at the Minnesota Humanities Center with folks from UW-Madison
representing WCER (Wisconsin Center for Education Research) and
WIDA (World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment Consortium);
Dennis Olson from Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), Director
of Indian Education; Elizabeth Watkins from MDE Special Education,
John Fila with the MN Collaborative Curriculum Project; Robin Nelson
and Becky Buck from N. St. Paul Indian Ed.; Ethan Neerdaels from
Osseo Indian Ed. and the Dakota Language Society, Joe Bendickson
from the University of Minnesota and Dakota Language Society , Casey
Demarais and Eden Bart from the Minnesota Humanities Center, Anton
Treuer from Bemidji State University and Brenda Cassellius, the
Commissioner of Education for the State of Minnesota.
The agenda is simple was simple with discussions including:
- A brief demographic overview of educational achievement in
Minnesota with each organization sharing about current work.
- Brainstorming ideas for possible partnerships and/or ways
we can support one anothers work.
Anton Treuer was the facilitator and helped us connect possible
opportunities to build future partnerships.
I was extremely proud of the presentation by the Dakota Language
Society presenters, Ethan Neerdaels and Joe (Sisokaduta) Bendickson.
They have recently published a first ever Dakota Language curricula
for K-12. It is being used for the first time in Minnesota in Osseo
Area Schools, Minneapolis Public schools, University of Minnesota-Twin
Cities, St. Cloud State, Bdote Language Immersion School and Dakota
Wichohan to name a few.
Their presentation explained that If someone attempted to learn
the Dakota language in 2013, they would immediately realize the
difficulty in reaching their language learning goals. Due to the
ongoing suppression of Indigenous languages and life ways by euro-centric
colonial empires, the Dakota language has experienced extreme language
loss in the past century. The banishment and forced relocation from
traditional homelands, paired with the generations of children forcibly
removed from their families and placed in boarding/residential schools
across the US and Canada has caused the Dakota language to currently
have about 5 first speakers of Dakota that were born and raised
in Minnesota Dakota communities along with approximately 20 speakers
from Dakota communities outside of the state of Minnesota. The average
age of fluent Dakota speakers is around 65 years old. If we do not
do something now, the language will not be passed on to future generations.
The statistics were staggering. I was proud to experience this
young leadership and their passion. This curricula is the outcome
of hundreds of volunteer hours that many young Native men and women
in our community donated, showing their commitment to our Dakota
language revitalization. All of their efforts to complete this curricula
was volunteer, following our native philosophies; to take care of
I was grateful to witness such passion today from all the groups
today. Wopida, Pidamiyaye ye!
Dakhóta Iápi Okhódakichiye (DIO, Dakota
Language Society) is a nonprofit organization of dedicated Dakota
community members, language learners and speakers. The Dakota Language
Society promotes revitalization of the Dakota language through the
creation and distribution of Dakota language materials to be implemented
in the home, community and classroom.
Level 1 Materials created without grant funding, donations,
or paid employees. All work was completed by Dakota people volunteering
their time out of necessity for the language to thrive. (Level 1
Speak Dakota Textbook, Posters, Audio Companion CD)
Utilizes the SLO/SDO Orthography already being used by thousands
of children in North and South Dakota, thus unifying the prominent
writing system across the Oceti Sakowin.
The Dakhóta Iápi Okhódakichiye (Dakota
Language Society) offers teacher/community training to help facilitate
classroom and community language table use.
For more information: http://www.dakhota.org/
Materials available from http://www.dakhota.org/store/