West indian people

Helena Public Schools students learn about the native peoples of Montana

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HELENA – Elements of Native American culture and tradition help students at Helena Public Schools learn about the native people of Montana.

The Indian Education for All initiative is implemented throughout Montana. It strives to educate all school children in Montana about Native culture and history.

Amanda Walking Child, the Education for All India coach for Helena Public Schools, told MTN that Montana is the only state in the union that has made such Indigenous education mandatory for all public schools. Her job is to go into schools and teach teachers about Indigenous education so they can in turn teach their students.

“All students will have the knowledge base of, you know, Montana. Because Montana is a native land, originally,” says Walking Child.

Currently this fall at Helena Public Schools, a teepee is being shared between different schools. This teepee is a great way to start a conversation about native culture.

“I think it could be like an icebreaker. Kids are like, ‘Hey, what is this? Why is it here?’, you know. And then teachers have an easier hook to start talking about Indian education,” says Walking Child.

Some schools will teach inside the tipi. Indian education can vary by school, but some in the Helena area will cover a wide area.

“If they go into music, they will learn Aboriginal music and dance. And when they go to physical education, they will learn about traditional games and play traditional games. And then when they go to the library, they go to the teepee and they read stories,” says Walking Child.

This program can also help people with Indigenous families connect to those roots and take pride in their heritage and culture.

“And it’s important to Indian Ed. for all to be in the neighborhoods, because it gives a sense of belonging to the native students who are actually the shy ones,” says Walking Child.

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