Student Art in the Minnesota Capitol? Idea Moving Forward, Thanks to Saint Paul Public Schools and MNHS

Thanks to Saint Paul Public School’s (SPPS), initial conversations are happening with the Minnesota Historical Society to get student art in the Capitol, according to Sherry Kempf, who works in the district’s Multicultural Resource Center (MRC). The MRC staff has been a wonderful partner in promoting the Healing Minnesota Stories Capitol Art project, which teaches students about the historic art in the Minnesota Capitol and challenges them to create their own contemporary Capitol art.

Several SPPS schools have participated in the project. The MRC now displays some 70+ pieces of student art, and more classrooms are in process. (Check out the MRC’s gallery, located in the Washington Technology Magnet School.)

Here is a short video the district created about the project, with footage from an art opening.

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St. Paul Public Schools Leading the Way in Indian Education for All

Alyse Burnside and Sherry Kempf of St. Paul Schools Multicultural Resource Center.
Alyse Burnside and Sherry Kempf of St. Paul Schools Multicultural Resource Center (in front of display of student-produced alternative Capitol art).

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