In Wyoming, state legislators are developing a bill that would create a curriculum and standards for teaching about Native Americans in the state’s public schools.
If the bill, called Indian Education for All, passes, the state’s education department would work with tribes to design standards. The Casper Star-Tribune reports that the bill, which passed the legislature’s Select Committee on Tribal Relations last month, is supported by the Wind River Native Advocacy Center.
“As a former social studies teacher, this is something in the state that’s really been missing,” Wyoming board of education chairman Pete Gosar told the Casper Star-Tribune. “They’ve been here first, and they’ve been here the longest.”
The Wyoming bill is modeled after a similar law in Montana, also known as Indian Education for All, that was passed in 1999. The Montana education department’s Division of Indian Education provides resources about the state’s tribe’s history, and a set of “essential understandings” that include the diversity of the state’s tribes and facts about the creation of reservations in the state.
In 2015, Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill that requires public schools there to teach students about the history and governance of indigenous nations in that state. The state education department’s Office of Native Education recently released a new K-12 curriculum on Native Americans called Since Time Immemorial. Indian Country Today reports that the state increased trainings for teachers at schools that are teaching the program this school year.
Native American history and the relationship between tribes and the U.S. government has been in the spotlight due to a standoff at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. Members of that tribe and supporters gathered to protest plans to build an oil pipeline near the reservation, and cited treaties between the Sioux tribe and the U.S. government to bolster their case. Earlier this week, the Department of the Army announced that it would look for alternate routes for the pipeline.
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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.