RCAS Task Force proposes expanded Oceti Sakowin curriculum

RAPID CITY, S.D. — With more than a quarter of all Rapid City Area Students identifying as indigenous, Superintendent Dr. Lori Simon, the Title VI Indian Education Parent Advisory Committee, and the Indigenous Education Task Force are all working to solidify the teaching of Native American history and language for all students.

That task force recently submitted their final report, which suggests improvements and focuses for the district.

“How are we integrating as a school district those Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings to support not only the history and knowledge of indigenous peoples but to support our indigenous students?,” says Dr. Valeriah Big Eagle, co-facilitator of the RCAS Indigenous Education Task Force. “If they feel like they’re represented in the curriculum, they have a higher resiliency in their cultural identity development.”

Rcas 2The group, comprised of teachers, school board members, Title VI committee members, and native members of the community, has met consistently since February of 2021 to address the educational standards and need for representation for native students.

The task force successfully started a Lakota Immersion Program for kindergarteners last year and are hoping to move into providing Lakota language classes as an option for all.

“We did see that students did want to see Lakota language in the schools, meaning, you know, the high school,” Dr. Big Eagle says. “You know how they learn Spanish? Well, with 3,900 indigenous students in the school district, that should be a priority.”

Another big focus? The hiring and retention of indigenous teaching staff.

“That’s something they’re going to start doing this year is, you know, start interviewing especially those that are still in the school district but not only that those students and indigenous educators that left the school district,” Dr. Big Eagle adds.

Dr. Big Eagle says they need buy-in from district leadership, and with much of the programming being grant-dependent, permanent funding.

CLICK HERE to read the full report from the RCAS Indigenous Task Force.

Categories: ConnectCenter1-Culture and Art, ConnectCenter1-Family, Local News