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ERIC Number: ED572930
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 12
Abstractor: ERIC
North Dakota Native American Essential Understandings
North Dakota Department of Public Instruction
In the spring of 2015, the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction brought together tribal Elders from across North Dakota to share stories, memories, songs, and wisdom in order to develop the North Dakota Native American Essential Understandings (NDNAEU) to guide the learning of both Native and non-Native students across the state. They are: (1) Sacred Relatives; (2) Learning and Storytelling; (3) Sharing and Generosity; (4) Sense of Humor; (5) Tribal Policies, Treaties, and Sovereignty; (6) Native Contributions; and (7) Native Identity. Similar Essential Understandings have been developed and are being used in several other states already, and more are making plans to begin a similar process. Many tribal Elders have had input into these understandings, and it is hoped that the NDNAEU themselves will open up many more additional opportunities for tribal Elders and Educational Leaders to impact North Dakota classroom practice with important tribal stories, songs, and cultural perspectives. The learning benefits to North Dakota students who have a tribal or native heritage are clear. According to research around Culture Based Education (CBE), "…in culture-rich environments, teachers push beyond conventional best practice to achieve greater relevance, relationships, and rigor using culturally responsive, relevant approaches. Teachers can and must make learning culturally meaningful to their students and families by honoring culture and place in teaching and learning with respect to the heritage language, family and community involvement, instructional content and context, and authentic assessment" (Kana'iaupuni and Ledward 2013). This publication provides a detailed description of the North Dakota Native American Essential Understandings, and a summary of outcomes connected with multi-cultural education as summarized in ASCD Express, Vol. 6, No. 15., 2011 ( They are: (1) All students should be encouraged to affirm themselves as unique individuals and they should accept and respect the differences shaping individual identities of other students; (2) Students should learn about their group from the school curriculum and about the diverse groups in American society to have a basis of appreciation and respect for cultural diversity; (3) Students should engage in intergroup dialogues that promote cross-cultural communication skills and reduce biases and prejudices; (4) Students should learn to be critical thinkers able to analyze historical and contemporary issues in order to make intelligent decisions about problems and conflicts; and (5) Students should engage in activities that address social justice issues and be encouraged to develop and implement strategies to respond to such issues in their school and their community. It is the hope of both the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction and the tribal Elder team of writers that these seven NDNAEU can create a framework for learning that will foster these outcomes. The NDNAEU are merely a starting point for this work.
North Dakota Department of Public Instruction. 600 East Boulevard Avenue Department 201, Bismarck, ND 58505-0440. Tel: 701-328-2260; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: North Dakota Department of Public Instruction
Identifiers - Location: North Dakota