Lawmakers Work to Add American Indian Curriculum to Wyoming Schools

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The Board of Education mandates certain subjects which are taught in schools, for instance social studies, but within that topic American Indian education is currently not included.

Lawmakers now want to make the change.

News 13's Jenna Jackson introduces us to the American Indian Education Program Bill at the State Legislature.

Most of our surrounding states have Indian education in their constitution or statutes and Fremont County Representative Jim Allen feels we are playing catch up.

It has been 10 years in the making and things are beginning to come together.

Jason Baldes, Wind River Native Advocacy Center Director shared, “Many people in the state don't even know or recognize that there is a reservation in the state.”

The bill would not only provide material to teachers but enrich the curriculum.

“What they're asking to be added actually just enriches the curriculum for our students and provides for a better education for them,” said Representative Debbie Bovee.

The bill would also mandate Wyoming schools to include Indian education in their curriculum.

A topic Baldes said is vital.

“Often times we're asked if we still live in tipis, or how we cook our food in the rain or how we get around so there's lots of things that people don't know or understand,” shared Baldes.

Only about half of Wyoming counties currently teach Indian history to students.

Representative Allen, “We want to get it all the way to 100% and also we want to make sure that the tribes are telling their story in conjunction with the department of education, so that it's told right."

Both tribes in Wyoming, the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho would consult on the material and ultimately approve what would be taught.

Baldes added, “It's not somebody else telling our story, it's us telling our own story and that's critical because we have a long history in this region and I think once we're able to share that with people, people will recognize how important of a contribution we've made as a people.”

The bill passed the committee of the whole Thursday morning.