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North Dakota Superintendent Calls for American Indian Curriculum

The superintendent of North Dakota's public school system wants to launch a curriculum that would teach students about the state's American Indian tribes and culture, according to the Associated Press.

State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said the curriculum would mirror Montana's, which covers the state's 12 tribal nations and their traditions, beliefs, and culture. The lessons would be integrated into current subject area curricula, like math, reading, and music. Last year, Native Americans accounted for about 11 percent of North Dakota's student population, and 3 percent of its teachers, according to the article.

A handful of states, including Idaho, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, require that students learn about their state's Native American tribes. Since 2005, Washington state has recommended the inclusion of tribal history in schools. Montana's Superintendent of Public Instruction, Denise Juneau, told the Associated Press that the state's curriculum is meant for all students in Montana. "It's not Indian education for Indians," Juneau said. "It's Indian education for all." 

Educators in schools run by the federal Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) have also pushed for more coverage of Native American culture, although specifically in BIE schools. A federal report released last month by the Bureau of Indian Education Study Group found that many tribal educators believe the BIE has too many restrictive policies that have prevented schools from implementing Native language and culture classes.

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