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SB 2304 adds Native American history to ND schools’ curriculums

Submitted Photo Hunter Andes and Margret Yellowbird, teachers at White Shield High School, took White Shield’s seventh, eighth, and Sahnish I and II classes to the ceremonial signing on April 28 of SB 2304 – a bill to require a unit of Native American history in K-12 education. Andes and Yellowbird have taken the students four times to support and testify in behalf of the bill.

NEW TOWN -A historic bill that will require North Dakota public and nonpublic schools to teach Native American history in their curriculums passed recently in the North Dakota Senate in a resounding victory for tribal communities, leaders, students and educators.

The bill has been supported strongly by Rep. Ruth Buffalo, D-Fargo, who was born in Mandaree and is a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, according to information from the MHA Nation. Buffalo provided testimony on the floor of the House of Representatives in support of Senate Bill 2304 and she was very active in gathering other legislative support and testimonies. The MHA Nation also provided both written and oral support for the bill.

Senate Bill 2304 was first introduced and co-sponsored in January by State Sens. Joan Heckaman, D-New Rockford, and Richard Marcellais, D-Belcourt.

Gov. Doug Burgum, MHA Chairman Mark Fox, Buffalo, Marcellais and Heckaman, other state legislators and North Dakota Native American students gathered together to celebrate the passing of the bill at the State Capital in Bismarck on April 28.

At a special reception, also held last week, at the North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum, Buffalo provided some detailed history and some of the hurdles the bill encountered but that with unity and perseverance, the bill is now law. Buffalo also expressed her appreciation at the event to the many individuals and organizations involved in supporting and lobbying for the passage of the bill.

“The MHA Nation eagerly looks forward to working with Representative Buffalo as she takes the lead in developing this beneficial program,”said Fox.

With SB 2304 now part of the North Dakota Century Code, the implementation of the mandate will begin in earnest with planning and curriculum development. The bill mandates that public and nonpublic schools in North Dakota include a history of the impacts to Native American tribes, tribal history, tribal sovereignty and treaty rights as a unit of United States history in their curriculums. The instruction will have an emphasis on all federally-recognized tribes in the state.

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