State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi today introduced a new online resource guide aimed at strengthening American Indian education in Oklahoma.
Located on the State Department of Education (SDE) website at ok.gov/sde/oier, the Oklahoma Indian Education Resource details the vibrant culture, traditions, history and governments of the state’s 39 sovereign tribes.
“This site is the result of the diligence and hard work of many people, including the Oklahoma Advisory Council on Indian Education,” Barresi said. “The story of Oklahoma is, in many respects, the story of American Indian tribes. The impact of Indian culture on Oklahoma is deep and enduring. It is critical that all Oklahomans — particularly the youngest and future generations — understand and appreciate the traditions and legacies of our Indian tribes. This online resource is a comprehensive, user-friendly way for educators to ensure that happens.”
Her sentiments were echoed by Dwight Pickering, director of the Office of American Indian Education at the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE).
“I am so pleased and excited about this special project,” he said. “I want to thank the many educators, partners and tribes who worked on providing this invaluable information on our 39 tribal nations, their rich culture, traditions and history. This will be an ongoing repository that will change as history changes, along with additional information that is brought forward by our tribes. This is one step toward a much bigger project: ‘Indian education for all.’”
The resource site provides information on the 39 tribes of Oklahoma to assist teachers as they prepare lessons on the state’s indigenous history and cultures. Topics range from Native American contemporary arts to Native American Code Talkers of World Wars I and II.
The instruction material on the site is aligned with the Oklahoma Academic Standards for Social Studies. There are plans to implement a wide spectrum of lesson plans appropriate for all grade levels and in all subjects, including math, language arts and science. Teachers are encouraged to submit their own lesson plans for inclusion on the website.
“For Oklahoma’s children to truly understand who we are and how we got here, they need to understand Native American culture and history,” said Gov. Mary Fallin. “I am excited about this new resource for teachers as they work to educate their students about the proud traditions of our many tribes.”
In developing the resource site, the Office of American Indian Education at OSDE worked closely with American Indian educators and with the support of the 39 tribes in Oklahoma. Other partners in the project include: the Oklahoma Historical Society, OETA, the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum, The Oklahoman and the Oklahoma Council for Indian Education.
As the state boasts one of the largest American Indian student populations in the nation, the resource website promotes the multiplicity of the 39 tribes by incorporating and integrating curriculum and lesson plans of each nation.