South Dakota Slated to Cut Native American History

Beginning in the 2016-2017 academic year, high school students in South Dakota will not be learning about Native Americans. Above, Chief Joseph.

Beginning in the 2016-2017 academic year, high school students in South Dakota will not be learning about Native Americans. Above, Chief Joseph.

Sheena Louise Roetman, Indian Country Today

South Dakota high school students will not be learning about Native Americans next year, thanks to some quietly approved changes in content standardsthat no longer require students to study early American history.

Beginning in the 2016-2017 academic year, high school students in South Dakota may chose one of three courses to satisfy their single U.S. history requirement: Early U.S. History, Modern U.S. History or Comprehensive U.S. History.

A group of 35 educators made up the South Dakota Social Studies Content Standards Revision Committee, which recommended the adjustments that were approved on August 24, after a year long approval process – the first changes to be made since 2006.

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The changes effectively remove a large part of American historical context from the required curriculum, including colonialism, the American War for Independence, slavery, Manifest Destiny, the Civil War and women’s suffrage.

Students may still opt to take Early U.S. History, they also now have the option of avoiding it altogether, which makes it a “non-standard standard,” said Ben Jones, dean of arts and sciences for Dakota State University in Madison, as told to the Argus Leader.

The entire content standards report emphasizes critical thinking, inquiry, communication and problem solving skills.

“Rather than just having then memorize a list of historical events on a time line,” Michael Amolins, Harrisburg School District Secondary Curriculum Director, told KSFY, “We’re trying to get them to use that information in context so that when they’re looking at current events they can make good and informed decisions as citizens and as voters.”

But this leads to another concern – what happens when students get to college?

“What we’re going to get is students who don’t differentiate,” Michael Mullins, a history professor at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, told KSFY. “Say, Abraham Lincoln’s time period from George Washington’s time period from the Puritans. And it will get lumped together and we’ll wonder why.”

Jones told the Argus Leader, “It’s disabling their citizenship.”

According to the Argus Leader, instructors from colleges and universities around the state submitted a letter to the board opposing the lack of required history. This list included representatives from Dakota State University, University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University, Northern State University, Augustana University, Presentation College, the University of Sioux Falls and Black Hills State University.

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/09/30/south-dakota-slated-cut-native-american-history-161914

Native American Activists Could Sue The City Of Nashville Over Ancient Remains

By Bobby Allyn, Nashville Public Radio

Albert Bender says the new Sounds stadium should be put on hold to find more ancient artifacts. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District/Flickr)

Albert Bender says the new Sounds stadium should be put on hold to find more ancient artifacts. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District/Flickr)

Native American activists are asking Nashville Mayor Karl Dean to halt the construction of a new minor league baseball stadium after archeologists discovered ancient artifacts. One Native American activist said a lawsuit could follow if the city ignores their demands.

Activist Albert Bender writes about Native American history for a living. He said more time should be given to archeologists to study the site. Bender considers next spring’s scheduled opening date of the new $150-million-dollar Sounds Stadium to be arbitrary.

“What is the problem with halting the construction of the ballpark for a few months to a year, when we’re talking about thousands of years of history that is waiting to be unearthed?” Bender asks.

What archeologists dug from the earth were ancient pottery used to boil water in the production of salt, which was then exported around the South some 800 years ago.

Archeologists will publish a detailed analysis of all findings form the site next month.

Last week, Bender presented the mayor with a list of demands. If the stadium construction isn’t put on pause, Bender would like to see the site at least commemorated in some way.

Among his suggestions is the development of an “interpretative center” in which the artifacts could be publicly viewed in a separate museum-like building.

“This is something we’re considering,” said Bonna Johnson, spokeswoman for Mayor Karl Dean. “We’ve asked the ballpark project team to look at ways to pay homage to the Native American history in that area. We will continue conversations with the Native American groups that approached us about this and work toward a solution.”

Bender says his American Indian Coalition, which is not an incorporated group, represents “all Native Americans who feel the way we do,” but it does to have an official member count.

Bender, who is an attorney but not licensed to practice in Tennessee, says suing over the matter is not out of the question.

“To my knowledge, this is the first time anything of this nature has ever been found in the state of Tennessee, or any where in the South” said Bender, who is writing a book on Native American history. “There is so much knowledge to be gained form this site, and we feel it far outweighs any artificial schedule, rush schedule, for the completion of the ballpark.”

A similar battle unfolded in Miami recently, where preservationists convinced developers to redesign a long-planned hotel to include a display of an ancient Native American village discovered during construction. The battle delayed the project for weeks and generated international attention.

Bender said the Miami case has many parallels with Nashville’s, and he said the success of preservationists there could embolden his own effort.