Some things look better on paper than they perform in reality.
Such seems to be the case in Montana, the only state in the country with a constitutional amendment and specific laws to require public schools to teach Indian education for all students.
The language sounds so promising. Yet a number of Native Nations and Indigenous parents say after decades the state still isn’t living up to those promises. Some have proposed a class action lawsuit to force the issue.
The state of Minnesota failed miserably to uphold, let alone consider, how the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline violated Anishinaabe treaty rights to hunt, fish, and gather on the lands they ceded to the U.S. government.
Those “usufractuary” rights to hunt, fish, and gather outside reservation boundaries are critical to many if not all Native Nations. The Anishinaabe’s struggle to keep its hunting and fishing rights gets repeated across the country.
Consider the State of Washington’s ludicrous efforts to strip Snoqualmie Nation of its treaty rights.
The state of Montana has a remarkable provision in its Constitution called “Indian Education for All”. It is in Article X, passed in 1999, and it reads in part:
Recognition of American Indian cultural heritage — legislative intent. (1) It is the constitutionally declared policy of this state to recognize the distinct and unique cultural heritage of American Indians and to be committed in its educational goals to the preservation of their cultural heritage.
It would be great if Minnesota had such a Constitutional provision, but in the meantime a round of applause to the St. Paul Public Schools and its Multicultural Resource Center (MRC) for its efforts to teach all children about our state’s native peoples, particularly the Dakota.
Today we highlight two MRC initiatives. First, it is working towards taking all fifth grade students on a day-long field trip of six sacred Dakota sites in the Twin Cities area. Second, the MRC is replicating a Healing Minnesota Stories art project where students learn about the stereotyped art in the Minnesota State Capitol and how it depicts Native Americans. Then, students create their own alternative Capitol art, reflecting stories from their communities and their hopes for Minnesota’s future. Continue reading →