For the first time ever, Bismarck Public Schools has hired a full-time Indian Education Director.
Ten percent of the BPS school population is made up of students from over 50 federally recognized tribes.
It’s for that reason that Sashay Schettler is stepping in as the first-ever, full-time Indian Education Director.
“For so long, historically speaking, Indigenous peoples within public education have been underrepresented. The history has been inaccurate. This is just a really good opportunity for our people to be visible,” explained Schettler.
For six to eight months, BPS teamed up with their Indigenous Parent Advisory Council Committee to ensure they were meeting the needs of not only their students but the community as a whole.
“When these kids are in school, that they can look to somebody and that they see themselves in that person. And the importance of that is captured in the values that we have and in the value of inclusion and leadership,” explained Dr. Jason Hornbacher, the Superintendent of BPS.
Schettler, who is a member of the MHA Nation, says with this position she will bring three different perspectives: a former BPS student, an educator and an Indigenous woman.
“Having multiple perspectives brought into public schools is very important. Not just for our Indigenous communities, but for everyone in our community. So I think that’s really important to highlight, as well as our students being able to see themselves reflected in the school and the curriculum,” said Schettler.
She and the school district are looking to create a strategic plan to add more Native American studies to the curriculum.
“Would include things like hiring practices and curriculum and representation. All those things that come with empowering Indigenous voices,” explained Schettler.
“I have this little inkling that Ms. Schettler’s future for supporting Indigenous people of North Dakota, this is but a stepping stone for her,” shared Dr. Hornbacher.
Schettler will officially begin as the district’s Indian Education Director on March 15.