BISMARCK — Teachers and administrators from all over North Dakota — spanning from Standing Rock Sioux and Spirit Lake nations to Bismarck and Mandan — gathered Friday, July 12, to learn how to better educate Indigenous students in their schools.

Nearly 200 people attended the sixth annual Indian Education Summit at the North Dakota State Capitol in Bismarck, marking the biggest event yet, according to Lucy Fredericks, director of Indian/multicultural education at the state Department of Public Instruction.

The goal, she said, is making educators “aware of our Native culture and history and where our students come from, so that maybe they have a better understanding of challenges they may have.”

Fredericks, an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, started in her role seven years ago and immediately noticed a need for a summit dedicated to Indigenous education, as Native Americans make up 10 percent of the student population in the state’s K-12 schools, she said.

Dakota Goodhouse teaches a session at the Indian Education Summit in Bismarck on Thursday, July 11. Special to The Forum
Dakota Goodhouse teaches a session at the Indian Education Summit in Bismarck on Thursday, July 11. Special to The Forum

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The history of tribes in North Dakota isn’t being taught in schools, said Gov. Doug Burgum in a speech during the lunch break on Friday.

“We have to do a better job of helping our own state understand the culture, the challenges, the multigenerational trauma,” he said. “Starting here with all of you taking the time to be here to invest in yourself.”

Dakota Goodhouse, a Native American studies professor at United Tribes Technical College and a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, taught at the summit for the first time this year. The best part, he said, was that Native and non-Native educators were all seeking to “polish their approach” to teaching Indigenous students.

“It’s just a great example of positive energy here that will help educators, Native and non-Native, to educate our Native people, who are not just on the reservation but in our public schools off the reservation,” he said.