BISMARCK, N.D., July 1, 2022 – State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said this week’s North Dakota Indian Education Summit will focus on ways to integrate instruction about North Dakota’s five tribes into the curriculum of the state’s K-12 schools.
The eighth annual summit is being held Thursday and Friday (July 7-8) in the North Dakota Capitol and the neighboring Heritage Center, said Lucy Fredericks, director of American Indian and multicultural education for the state Department of Public Instruction.
About 250 people have registered for the event, which is a record number, Fredericks said. The number of breakout instructional sessions (37) and summit exhibitors and vendors (20) also are more than the summit has ever hosted, Fredericks said.
Several of the instructional sessions will concentrate on ways to blend Native American history, culture and traditions into the K-12 curricula of North Dakota’s schools. This is in response to SB2304, a bill approved by the North Dakota Legislature last year, which requires schools to include Native American tribal history in elementary, middle school and high school instruction.
“Our public education system has a great responsibility to help all of our students learn about the richly diverse history and experiences that exist in North Dakota. As a result, we will better understand each other and grow stronger,” Baesler said.
Other sessions include presentations on strong student engagement practices, how to evaluate the effectiveness of programs for indigenous communities, and ways to strengthen ties between schools and their communities.
The sessions incorporate the progress of the North Dakota Native American Essential Understandings initiative, which Baesler began in 2015. The Essential Understandings Initiative offers information about the history, culture and traditions of North Dakota’s tribes, including a website with interviews of tribal elders and a resource document for classrooms.
“Our summit offers a great deal of new information,” Baesler said. “And it provides a marvelous opportunity for educators to have conversations about best practices in their classrooms for all students.”