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Equity & Diversity

Washington State Law Would Mandate Native Curriculum

By Jackie Mader — May 08, 2015 1 min read
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Legislation recently passed by Washington state lawmakers would require all public schools in the state to teach Native culture and history, according to a story by The Herald of Everett.

The law would require teachers to give lessons on tribal government, history, and culture during social studies classes and also requires the state, tribes, and school districts to collaborate on resources. Teachers could use their own resources or incorporate materials from the state’s Native curriculum, which was developed in 2005 and is endorsed by the 29 federally recognized tribes in Washington. Lesson materials included in that curriculum focus on tribal culture and Native perspectives during history.

A handful of states, including Oklahoma and New Mexico, require that students learn about their state’s Native American tribes. Last year, North Dakota’s state superintendent of education called for a mandatory American Indian curriculum that would mirror Montana’s, which focuses on the state’s 12 tribal nations and their culture, traditions, and beliefs.

Teachers in schools run by the federal Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) have also pushed for more Native American language and culture, specifically in BIE schools. A federal report released last year by the Bureau of Indian Education Study Group found that many tribal educators believe the BIE has restrictive policies that have prevented BIE schools from implementing Native language and culture classes. Earlier this week, several U.S. senators and representatives introduced a bipartisan bill that would provide grants to support Native language programs and preserve Native languages in tribal communities.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to sign the law on Friday.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.