Teaching Tribal History Is Finally Required in Washington Public Schools

The Next Fight: Getting Teachers Across the State to Embrace the Curriculum


I'd have a lot more respect for Brown if she could explain herself without relying on the f-word as a crutch for her lack of being articulate.
@1. You clearly have not had the honor or privilege of having her teach your children, nor have you, apparently, had any interaction with her beyond the pulled quote the Stranger used in an otherwise excellent article.

It has been and continues to be a great experience to have Shawna Brown teach my children at Broadview-Thompson.

Inarticulate would not be a word I would ever associate with her.

Just admit you're a bigot, and move on.
I have been teaching 4th graders at my school in Tacoma about our Washington state tribes.
I hope to see a new curriculum that is more tailored to a 4th grade reading level and covers all our state tribes. I would also like to see a kid friendly link on every tribe's website where they could read about that tribe. I'm trying to dispel the image that so many students have that our indigenous people live in teepees and wear buckskin. Seriously ask a 4th grader to describe an American Indian today and you may be surprised or not, I was. So I have made it my mission to teach them the truth, all of it.
Bad idea. Rubs raw sores of discontent a la Alinsky. Melting pot is us, otherwise fractured nation. Promoters seem to want to ratchet up grievance feelings. To what end?
@3 I have had multiple English teachers in public schools explain to the students that using curse words in your writing or speech, especially as adjectives, is a bad idea. It simply makes the user less interesting when they rely on fowl language to get the audience's attention instead of making an effort to use better descriptors to be compelling. It's simply lazy and unfortunately the go-to for most articles found in the Stranger.
@6 I have never once heard a chicken say the word "fuck". And language prudes can talk about laziness all they want, but expletives are an endlessly valuable part of our language. Just to give one tiny example, they serve to identify the language prudes in our midst so effortlessly.
this is a great idea. i picked up an atlas of N American tribes in my 20s and I still use that book to this day.

the conceit that the tribes are sovereign nations, however, has always irritated me. it may say that in a treaty, but that's not the reality. a casino is not a seat at the UN.
This is great, and long over due, now if we could only start teaching Labor history as well...
@1, oh dear. Quick, shuck the James Joyce, Salinger, and Norman Mailer while you are conducting this word purge. BTW, for those who like to roll your tongue around the profane every now and then, Google Steven Pinker and Stephen Fry on their take on this matter. It's a good Monday wake up.

Back to the story. Yay! It's about time. If the citizenship exam requires an Eitrean to know at least one NA tribe, we can at the very least require our own native born citizens to know the same.
Oops. Make that Eritrean.
Thoughts about shucking Norman Mailer. Must admit I found a copy of his book as a youngster on my parents' bookshelf. Read part of it, stopped, and shucked. But then after he died, a good friend sent me this article:


Back to work.
Considering how much time a teacher has to spend testing these days (and even more time on test prep if WA passes the teacher evals tied to test scores that the GOP salivates over), when will teachers have the time to teach about Native culture? Social studies has gone by the wayside in most of the lower income public schools due to the push for test scores and the focus on reading and math. Science also gets shorted, though quite not as badly as social studies. Something needs to give. Either you have a rich curriculum for all kids, or you have a narrow, test prep curriculum for most kids except those in richer schools who can deviate from test prep at school because they have tutors, access to books, music lessons, sports, etc.
The "teaching our children to feel guilty" argument is absolute nonsense. I am a white person and I have so much sadness for the way that natives have been treated for the past 500 years. But I didn't do those things. Separate sadness and empathy from guilt. The only persons who should feel shame or guilt now are those who would choose to continue to deny that aspect of history.

@6 It is important to teach children to write without the use of curse words so that they can fully develop a vocabulary without relying on curse words as crutches. That being said, Shawn Brown is a goddam adult, speaking conversationally, about a subject that she has an emotional personal history with. If the fact that an adult uses a single curse word while speaking with another adult for a publication aimed at adults in that context is something you feel is cause to negate her entire message than you, sir, are a fucking moron.
The history of evolving from indigenous living to surviving off of gambling, selling low tax gas and cigarettes.
"the conceit that the tribes are sovereign nations, however, has always irritated me. it may say that in a treaty, but that's not the reality."

This level of misunderstanding is why this tribal sovereignty program is necessary for our kids. Newcomers blithely persist in not understanding basic civics of what treaties allowed them to move into ceded lands, and what treaties allow them to do some fishing and hunting (but not so much that it cuts into the amount reserved by the tribes). High school civics to the extent that it exists at all persists in ignoring where treaty law lies in the hierarchy of local, state, federal, and international law (hint, look ABOVE the US constitution).
@16: sorry, but I know all that. i still believe "nation" is a contrivance from another time, and no tribe actually operates as a sovereign nation within the borders of the US. I'm fine with honoring the letter of the treaties.

by "newcomer", i presume you mean all non-indigenous people in the americas.
@1/@3: Look at The Stranger as more of a glorified 'zine' than a reputable news agency.
Q: Is any of this Indian history going to be on the "test?" ;)
Back in 7th grade in upstate NY my teacher did an extended unit (as part of the NY State history) on the Iroquois Confederacy which was the highlight of the year. I believe she generated most of the curriculum herself. We were lucky enough to be able to study a nation that had managed to preserve more of its history than most of the northeastern natives.

@3- Fowl language is indeed a terrible way to communicate with human beings. Expletives are an excellent way of expressing extreme emotions.
I've taught on the REZ at two locations and in another 75+% Native American public school.

Remember the absolute farce in regard to Seattle District Office's programs for Native kids a few years back.

If the goal is to improve the opportunity for Native Americans to get a quality education, then spending $300,000 on this program will hardly impact the huge problems in Indian Country. I do like the program and it may positively impact some students.

#1 The lowest tests scores are coming from rural schools on the Rez and schools like Chief Leschi, Lummi, Tahola, and White Swan many of which have more culturally relevant curriculum elements. Their test scores are low when compared with Indian kids in metropolitan areas.

#2 I would be a lot more impressed if the Governor and OSPI actually analyzed the problem and developed solutions....

#3 In looking up Lummi Schools under Ferndale SD on OSPI School Report Card, I found the following message:

Lummi Elementary School closed 10-23-2014
Lummi High School closed 10-23-2014
and yet these schools are still open and my buddy teaches at the high school and has a contract for next year.... So much for OSPI's School Report card's report on the demise of two schools.

Here are some MSP scores from Spring 2014

2013-14 MSP Results @Chief Leschi Schools (lots of culturally relevant activities)
Grade Level Reading Math
3rd Grade 45.3% 20.3%
4th Grade 38.1% 28.9%
5th Grade 58.7% 42.8%
6th Grade 41.6% 18.3%
7th Grade 35.7% 14.2%

State-wide results for all Native American & Alaska Native students =>

2013-14 MSP Results
Grade Level Reading Math
3rd Grade 49.7% 39.5%
4th Grade 46.0% 34.8%
5th Grade 52.6% 42.4%
6th Grade 49.1% 36.7%
7th Grade 43.4% 30.3%

Results for Native Americans & Alaska Natives in Seattle Schools =>

2013-14 MSP Results
Grade Level Reading Math
3rd Grade 45.4% 45.4%
4th Grade 50.0% 44.4%
5th Grade 57.1% 50.0%
6th Grade 53.3% 40.0%
7th Grade 41.9% 32.2%

Mount Adams SD @ White Swan (Yakima Nation)
2013-14 MSP Results
Grade Level Reading Math
3rd Grade 23.2% 20.0%
4th Grade 25.6% 20.5%
5th Grade 17.9% 7.6%
6th Grade 17.9% 12.8%
7th Grade SBAC SBAC

The results for rural schools in Indian Country are generally very poor ... yet our supposed education leaders have done nothing to positively effect any solutions. It is a really difficult situation with many causes. So does anyone care enough to improve this situation?

Gates Foundation participated in funding the Lummi Youth Academy for high school youth which has a residential component.

2013-14 MSP Results for Native Americans in all Ferndale Schools
Grade Level Reading Math
3rd Grade 40.0% 16.0%
4th Grade 33.3% 24.2%
5th Grade 18.1% 15.0%
6th Grade SBAC SBAC
7th Grade 46.8% 43.7%

2013-14 MSP Results for Native Americans in Marysville schools (Tulalip tribe)
Grade Level Reading Math
3rd Grade 43.8% 31.5%
4th Grade 38.3% 30.0%
5th Grade 32.5% 25.5%
6th Grade 41.1% 26.9%
7th Grade 37.2% 14.2%

2013-14 MSP Results for Native Americans in Tacoma Public Schools
Grade Level Reading Math
3rd Grade 48.5% 41.1%
4th Grade 61.9% 42.8%
5th Grade 65.3% 46.1%
6th Grade 47.3% 43.5%
7th Grade 53.5% 41.3%

So what is Tacoma doing in Reading?

Taholah SD 70+% Native and 80% poverty (free & reduced meals)

2013-14 MSP Results for all students in Taholah SD
Grade Level Reading Math
3rd Grade 33.3% 8.3%
4th Grade 66.6% 46.6%
5th Grade 35.7% 21.4%
6th Grade <5.0% <5.0%
7th Grade <5.0% <5.0%

In both reading and math of 12 sixth graders more than 95% did not meet standard.
In both reading and math of 15 seventh graders more than 95% did not meet standard.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data.
The Next Fight: Getting Teachers Across the State to Embrace the Curriculum

Really??? Say What?

The real fight should be to do something to confront the major problems confronting rural Indian kids as well as other Indian kids.... and the fight to get teachers to embrace the curriculum is largely a diversion from the real problems..... but in a State that is waiting until 2018 to fund education to meet constitutional requirements funding $300,000 for Indian curriculum is about what I would expect.
Seriously? Our kids as a whole are woefully under equipped to compete in the world economy. Nearly every other developed nation on Earth surpasses us in literacy, math and science and yet, here we are, mandating new requirements. Let's get the basics right before we start branching out. There were literally thousands of tribes and sub tribes. Are we going to learn about them all? Can't wait to hear the left calling for us to "fully fund" this new education experiment.
This is a great article. The discussion on sovereignty in the comments is an excellent example of why schools need to teach the curriculum. It's not quite the same, but if someone has difficulty understanding sovereignty, think of the states. The states are domestic dependents with autonomy to some degree from the federal government. Washington can legalize pot but can't compel Indiana to legalize pot. And Indiana can't tell Washington to make it criminal. Washington similarly, has no authority over tribes in Washington state. Just think if, Slade Gorton actually had this curriculum when he was a wee one, he would have understood that as the attorney general of Washington State he had no right to send the WA National Guard against tribal fishers back in the day, right? See there how it applies to everyday decision making?

Great article.
Who matters to me and why ? It takes healthy elasticity to arrive at a point to course this challenge and indeed , this is easy compared to our truth in history .
I have faith in truth and immersed , proactive , unmarginalized reconstruction of tenants .
I had an open air senior high education ...that was totally indoors . In middle school , outdoor science was really a healthy boost . Native semantics gives science real understanding. People , good people ..