The journey for a Senate Bill that would implement Native American history into schools continues.
“I could tell you right now, there are parents celebrating all over the state right now. This bill represents the hopes and dreams of a lot of native parents,” shared Cheryl Kary, the Executive Director of Sacred Pipeline Resource Center.
Senate Bill 2304 will require all public, private, elementary and secondary schools to include curriculum on Native American history.
As some put it, it’s been a long time coming.
“Our tribes were here many, many years before any of my ancestors came to the state and I want to make sure my grandchildren and their children going forward have an opportunity to learn about the rich history and the culture that these tribes have provided for us in the past and continue to provide for us right now and into the future,” explained Sen. Joan Heckamann, the Minority Leader from New Rockford.
The bill was passed by the House after previously failing in a tie vote back in March.
It was then split into two to be voted on.
Division A agrees that Tribal history in the state should be included in North Dakota.
Division B would make it a requirement in high school to graduate.
“There were opponents to the including the history, U.S. history component, which is high school. And so in an effort to not kill the bill completely because they didn’t agree with one section of the bill, they split it into two,” explained Democrat Rep. Ruth Buffalo, from Fargo.
Native American students are the highest minority population in North Dakota with over 10 percent.
“They really need to provide culturally responsive practices and strategies in the classrooms so that students can have that connection and so that they will feel more comfortable and included,” said Lucy Fredericks, Director of Indian and Multicultural Education for the Department of Instruction.
Fredericks says a bill like this, if signed, wouldn’t be a challenge.
Over the years the department has created resources like the North Dakota Native American essential understandings to help educators.
“Really help them feel more comfortable in providing instruction in Native American culture and history,” explained Fredericks.
If passed and signed students would see the change as early as next year.
Senate Bill 2304 has to be sent back to the Senate chamber to be voted on again because of the changes made to it.