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SB 2304: Native Americans in ND

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SB 2304: The New Native Americans in North Dakota Legislation
Tim Wollenzien | May 6, 2022

The new Native Americans in North Dakota legislation, SB 2304, was passed by the ND Legislature and signed into law by Governor Doug Burgum in April 2021, a little over a year ago. The legislation requires that North Dakota students learn about Indigenous history, tribal sovereignty and treaty rights in their classrooms. Since then, a core group of people has been meeting regularly to prepare the new curriculum for North Dakota students, including resources for educators and trainings on how to use the content in classrooms across the state. This group, the SB 2304 Working Group, is made up of professionals from the education and tribal sectors and has been meeting regularly. I’m honored to be part of it and to contribute resources available through Prairie Public and PBS LearningMedia.

The content included in Native Americans in North Dakotawill be hosted on the North Dakota Studies website, a familiar destination for educators who teach 4th and 8th graders. There’s a wealth of information on the North Dakota Studies page, which is continuously being updated by staff at the North Dakota State Historical Society. This will be a starting point for educators when the new content is rolled out.

If you’re wondering about resources that have already been developed, check out the Teachings of Our Elders site, which includes a number of resources for teachers looking to add Indigenous content to their curriculum, including existing North Dakota Studies materials. The website includes material for all grade levels and subject areas, and more will continue to be posted as it’s developed. This site is curated by Lucy Fredericks, the North Dakota Indian Education Director at the Department of Public Instruction. DPI has partnered with Sharla Steever and Scott Simpson to create much of the content that is available. I find particularly interesting the links to the Elder Interviews, which is an invaluable resource to share. This authentic connection to culture, language and tradition is rich and unique. I encourage you to take a look at it, and listen to a few of the interviews. Check out the link to the South Dakota sister site, too, since the North Dakota/South Dakota border really has only a minor influence on Indigenous geography.

Prairie Public Education Services has links to content on PBS LearningMedia, where you can search for content that has been created, curated, aligned by state standards and grade levels, and which is vetted and published by PBS stations around the U.S. Prairie Public has also produced materials which are available on PBS LearningMedia. If you haven’t set up a free account in PBS LearningMedia, wait no longer! There are tutorials galore, and our Education Services team would be happy to give you an introduction and overview. It’s a huge platform with lots of built-in tools, including the ability to assign content for students and to integrate media right into your lesson plans and assignments.

Keep an out for some workshops around the new Indigenous content, as the SB 2304 Working Group finalizes a series of Train the Trainer sessions in July 2022. This will be the first opportunity for administrators, curriculum directors, media and tech people and educators to explore how all this content will roll out in the coming years. One of the goals of the Working Group is to lessen anxiety for North Dakota educators about how to integrate this content in curricula across the spectrum of grade level and subject area. You can be confident to know that there are plenty of resources available, and plenty of people to call on. 

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Click here to listen to a Main Street interview with Ken Hall and Cara Currie Hall on SB 2304 (originally aired April 22, 2022).

Click here to watch a Prairie Pulse interview with Ken Hall on SB 2304 (originally broadcast March 31, 2022).