Standing Rock Schools Come Together for the Start of a New Year

Bismarck - Heads bowed and standing together, it isn't your typical back to school bash.

"Our circle, our symbol is our children so that's why we stand together,"
Juliana Taken Alive, educational programs manager says.

All schools part of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe- Education Consortium were invited to spend the day immersing themselves in the tribe's history and culture.

"A lot of our teachers on Standing Rock are non-native and this is a way to give them an orientation to Standing Rock. If they've never been here, if it's their first year teaching whether they're native or non-native, this is a good opportunity for them to kind of soak up some history and culture," Juliana says.

Today, Native tribal languages and history are worked into the school's curriculum
But some educators remember a time when integrating culture into the classroom was forbidden.

"We live and we look at the world whether we know it or not in two ways a Lakota/Dakota way or the English or predominant society way," Jesse Taken Alive, McLaughlin teacher says.

Taken Alive says he's lucky to understand and speak his native language and he wants that for all Native American kids.

"It's important we give them the tools and fill that hole in their heart of not having our language and having to live and deal with stereotypes," Jesse says.

This exact sentiment was echoed by Dr. Bartlette, a Native American author and the keynote speaker.

He says he grew up struggling with his own identity due to prejudice and racism and doesn't want kids to struggle like he did.

"We are wanting our non-Native teachers to realize how important it is for them to value our culture, our people, our history, and to help our students realize they are important," Don Bartlette, Native American author and speakers says.

But now,  with each new school year, they're taking back and passing on their history and culture.


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