Despite a huge collaboration of all of the WASHMN Task force and allies in 2021, a legislation bill failed. In fact, all Native-related bills failed to pass. We will continue efforts to see that our goals are met.
Invisibility is the current form of racism. American Indian students in Minnesota are not succeeding academically at the same rate as their peers. This has been a trend for American Indian students for more than 50 years in Minnesota. In order to improve outcomes for American Indian students, the legislature needs to pass proposed legislation requiring the implementation of Indigenous (or Indian) Education For All which will provide authentic curricular resources, create professional development for educators with input from tribal nations within Minnesota and support Native American’s effort to become teachers.
The history of Native Americans in Minnesota is one of great strength and revitalization. It is a story built around values that have shaped Native cultures and American society: respect for family and elders shared responsibility to care for the land and an obligation to provide a successful education to future generations. It is a story of resilience through great pain and injustice, from broken treaties and loss of land and language in the past to derogatory sports mascots and biased history taught in schools today. History matters. Perspective matters. Learning the true history of our State with all its flaws, is not a practice of cancellation culture, but of being an informed citizen.
Passage of Indian Education for all will ensure that we grow a generation of leaders who understand the responsibility of working with Tribal Nations.
On April 4th, 2019 Governor Walz signed Executive Order 19-24, affirming the government-to-government relationship between the State of Minnesota and the eleven tribes located in Minnesota. Minnesota is home to 11 sovereign tribal nations, which collectively represent the sixth largest employer in the state and the majority of the state’s 61,000 American Indians. As required by Governor Walz’s EO 19-24, Minnesota Tribal and State Relations Training prepares state agency employees with the knowledge and tools to consult with tribes on matters of mutual interest. The training has been a great success and has created better working relationships between the state and tribal governments. This is a band-aid, and we must look to the source. Minnesota’s curriculum does not include information about our Tribal governments and people after 1900 creating the inequities, and false assumptions that we no longer exist and promotes harmful stereotypes.
Minnesota statute (120b.021 Required Academic Standards) states that the commissioner must include the contributions of Minnesota American Indian tribes and communities as they relate to the academic standards during the review and revision processes. However, the current statute does not include a mechanism for ensuring accountability in the implementation of the statute nor by consulting with the Tribal Nations Education Committee in the same. This legislation is the mechanism that will breathe life into that statute.
History must be directly linked to contemporary life. This shows two things:
- Native Americans’ cultures and contributions are vital parts of modern life;
- Injustices continue today. Because many non-Native Americans don’t know (or realize they don’t know) any Native Americans, highlighting Native peoples’ involvement in every aspect of modern life helps people move past the systemic erasure and stereotypes to see what is true today.
This is an urgent call to the State of Minnesota to choose justice and justice includes taking action. Passing this legislation in its entirety is a critical step toward changing the narrative, building community, and creating meaningful partnerships with the Tribal Nations and important American Indian-led Organizations of this State.
For more details, see the webinar below.
We Unite: As advocates, we unite to establish and maintain communications and the promotion of quality education and unity for American Indians. This informational webinar will review and discuss a variety of Native-related provisions in the Legislature pending before the conference committee that can go a long way to improving the visibility, experience, and academic achievement of Native students.