Havre Daily News
Havre-area schools are receiving state grants to enhance Indian education.
The point of the grants, called “ready to go” because the schools get the funding quickly, is for the schools to create curriculum that can be used by all Montana public schools to teach Native American ways, said Jacalyn Ironmaker, who will direct the grant program for Rocky Boy Public Schools.
“Everyone is doing something different to help the rest of the state. We create something that other tribes can use as a framework and plug in their own tribe's culture,” she said.
The grants, announced by the state Office of Public Instruction last week, were awarded to about two dozen schools in the state. The Indian Education for All grants are both one-year and two-year grants and range from $12,000 to $26,000. The Indian Education for All constitutional mandate requires that all public schools teach the cultural heritage of the state's Indian tribes. The 1999 mandate was mostly unfunded until last year's special session of the Legislature.
Rocky Boy Public Schools received a $12,476 two-year grant. Ironmaker said the funds will be used to fill two trunks, one for the elementary students and one for seventh through 12th grade, with materials to aid educators in teaching the history of Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation. Ironmaker said lessons include how the reservation was formed and the meanings behind the Chippewa Cree seal.
Box Elder Public Schools received a $12,500 two-year grant, said Shiloh Schwab, the grant director for Box Elder. The school's K-12 students are working on a cook book. The book will be approved by tribal elders when finished and then given to the state Office of Public Instruction to make it available for all the schools in the state. The recipes are not just Native American and will include recipes added by students and community residents that are diabetic friendly and use whole wheat.
The school is going to hang six star quilts made by a local tribal elder in various rooms on campus. Schwab said the school is working on incorporating more Cree language into its curriculum.
Havre Public Schools assistant superintendent Dennis Parman, project director for the grant for HPS, said the district was awarded a $22,000 one-year grant. The majority of the funds will be used on two projects: the filming of a DVD capturing interviews with local tribal members and others from the Hi-line, and a conference in August.
Parman said the DVD will examine past and contemporary issues. He said most of the digital recording and editing equipment has been purchased. Havre schools will partner with Montana State University-Northern for early August's conference, Parman said. He added that the time was selected to coincide with Rocky Boy's powwow.
The conference is for educators and will include speakers from the Rocky Boy, Fort Belknap and Blackfeet reservations. Topics for the conference will include the tribes' histories, social issues, culture and traditions, Parman said.
He said he is planning to purchase materials to be used by teachers and also kept in the school libraries. As part of the grant, teachers will produce a lesson plan for the books that can be shared with other schools. All materials need to be approved by the district's cultural council, which Parman considers a “guiding light on what is appropriate” and includes local tribal leaders.
Hays-Lodge Pole's federal programs director, Violet Crasco, said the district received a $25,000 one-time grant. Crasco said the funds will be used to research how students can become better speakers and master the English language. The school works with what Crasco calls “reservation dialect,” which was developed after tribes were not allowed to speak their native tongue and had to learn English.
Crasco said the dialect includes many contractions, including “gotta” and “woulda.” She said the lessons are meant to teach students that they shouldn't be ashamed of their dialect.
“You need to be proud of who you are. You have several ways - native language, English, reservation slang and sign language,” Crasco said of the lessons taught.
“It's kinda - you hear that kinda? It (reservation slang) is a language in its own. I try really hard to use it. We use good standard English when we are teaching our kids as a good role model. We don't want to teach them that the dialect is unacceptable, because it is (acceptable).”
Crasco said the goal is for students to see the relevance of formal education and their roles in society.