Wednesday, September 15, 2021

More states are requiring schools to teach more Native American history and culture, amid bumps in the road

Native Americans have tried for years to get grade schools to teach more about their history and culture, especially those of local tribes. But "new requirements have been adopted in Connecticut, North Dakota and Oregon and advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd," Susan Haigh reports for The Associated Press. "The legislation affecting schools has advanced alongside new bans on Native American mascots for sports teams and states celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day in place of Christopher Columbus Day."

Efforts to require more Native American history have met with challenges. Some state legislatures have declared new laws unnecessary, saying that such things are already in school curricula. "There also have been some steps in the opposite direction amid battles over how topics related to race and racism are taught in classrooms," Haigh reports.

However, efforts are widespread and ongoing: "A 2019 report from the National Congress of American Indians, which surveyed 35 states with federally recognized tribes, found nearly 90 percent of states said they had efforts underway to improve the quality and access to Native American curriculum," Haigh reports. "While a majority said it’s included in their schools, less than half said it was required and specific to tribal nations in their state."

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