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"Indian Education For All" curriculum is now required in all Wyoming schools

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This year, Wyoming students are learning about the state's two tribes, the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone.

Starting this fall, schools across the state should have been including social studies curriculum about Native American history, government, culture and contemporary contributions. That's because back in 2018, the state legislature passed the "Indian Education For All Act" that gave schools three years to adopt the new curriculum.

Wyoming Department of Education's (WDE) chief policy advisor Kari Eakins said Wyoming's two tribes worked tirelessly to get this curriculum into schools. She said it wasn’t easy. At first, some argued for a short-term education project.

"An initiative or a project is great for a short-term goal that needs to be done," Eakins said. "But when you have two sovereign nations that are part of your state, that's not a short-term thing; that is a permanent status that everybody needs to be educated about."

Eakins said, to guarantee that school districts comply, the curriculum will be included in each school’s annual accreditation review.

WDE Social Studies consultant Rob Black said another aspect of the program is that on the Wind River Reservation, students are also using the new curriculum to learn computer science.

"We saw an opportunity to develop some lesson plans that include coding and other computer science concepts that are related to our standards for grades three to five on the Wind River Reservation," Black said. "The hope is to take the lessons statewide once they're developed. They combine the social studies standards that address Native American history and culture with our computer science standards."

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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