Center for First Nations Studies will address education about American Indians
GREEN BAY — Through partnering with tribal elders, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s new Center for First Nation Studies will help future educators do a more comprehensive job of teaching youth about the history, culture, sovereignty and contemporary issues of American Indians, University officials say.
The state of Wisconsin has laws requiring a certain amount of education for all kindergarten through 12th-grade students regarding American Indian nations. To more effectively meet those laws’ requirements, UW-Green Bay created the new Center for First Nations Studies under its Professional Program in Education.
The center — co-directed by Prof. Tim Kaufman, Education program chair, and Prof. Lisa Poupart, chair of the University’s First Nations Studies program — will invite tribal elders to assist in teacher education in Wisconsin and prepare K-12 teachers and University faculty to deliver accurate, culturally competent instruction about the history, culture, tribal sovereignty, and contemporary status of American Indians.
“The center will better prepare teachers in respect to American Indian curriculum and what is currently taught in the classroom about American Indians,” Kaufman said. “It will be a resource for teachers as they look to teach students about the country’s native peoples.”
The center will also support the on-going collaborative efforts of UW-Green Bay’s Education program and the First Nations Studies program in preparing teachers.
The key to the center is the development of consultative relationships with tribal elders and students in the Education program. Students and practicing teachers will be afforded the opportunity to gain a deeper knowledge of American Indian history and culture, and in turn, be better prepared to teach students.
A group of elders from Wisconsin’s regional tribes will be available through the center as resident Elder Oral Scholars. Their knowledge and expertise highlight the center’s emphasis on the time-honored oral tradition of First Nations teaching and learning.
“We are excited about working with tribal elders at the Center for First Nations Studies and the impact that will surely have on preparing future and practicing educators,” Kaufman said.
The center is building and will maintain a curriculum and instructional resources clearinghouse that represents the best practices in the design and delivery of classroom instruction. Included in this clearinghouse is the creation of a center website with electronic resources available to the public.
Through the center, the resident elders, UW-Green Bay Education students and faculty will offer consultation and services to teachers and school districts regarding curriculum, teaching materials and instructional methodology in American Indian studies.
The center, located in Rose Hall on the UW-Green Bay campus, will host a grand-opening celebration, led by tribal elders and a host drum, after the start of the semester for campus and community members.
UW-Green Bay’s First Nation Studies program is an interdisciplinary degree program that reflects the holistic worldview of the indigenous people of Turtle Island (North America). First Nation Studies is committed to the study of American Indian culture, philosophy, history, language, and the social, economic, political status of indigenous people and their communities. The program is designed to preserve and promote the identity of the indigenous people of North America, with an emphasis on the nations of the western Great Lakes. For more see: http://www.uwgb.edu/fns/.
(Editor’s Note: Information on the Wisconsin laws mandating the education of students about American Indian history, culture and tribal sovereignty can be found on the state Department of Instruction website at: http://dpi.wi.gov/amind/ai-stats.html.)