Changing how Oklahoma teaches

Changing how Oklahoma teaches
(Liz Gray/Reporter) Muscogee (Creek) Nation programs help develop cultural sensitivity training.

Liz Gray/Reporter

Cultural Education Resource Council member discusses projects

OKMULGEE, Oklahoma — The Cultural Education Resource Council created through the MCN State Tribal Education Partnership has developed a cultural sensitivity program.

CERC is made up of various employees of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation including Cultural Preservation, Language Program, College of the Muscogee Nation, tribal leaders and elders.

During their monthly meetings, CERC has been able to conduct research and develop ideas on what is needed in schools.

One need that was identified was cultural sensitivity in area schools, particularly rural ones that have a high percentage of the Native American population.

Sarah Price from the STEP program discussed how teachers might not know what cultural sensitivity means.

Though there are Native students that are familiar with their cultural background and traditions, Price said there are other Native students that are not.

She identifies with those particular students that may not know much about their own culture and sees this project as a way to help teach something that was not taught to her.

Price’s dad is Muscogee (Creek) but she was not raised traditionally and did not start to learn about MCN until she started working for the Nation.

“We really want to make it priority for students to begin learning about their own identities, but in the mean time offering assistance in professional development for teachers and educators to understand the importance of native identities for the students,” Price said.

CERC’s target audience is the teachers, in order to educate them about Indian country.

This includes historical background, tribal values in terms of family structure, knowledge of modern tribal sovereignty, stereotypes, misrepresentation and youth challenges from the trickle down of generational trauma.

In August, cultural sensitivity training was hosted at two schools, Wetumka and Weleetka.

There were over 100 educators and school officials in attendance for the three-hour presentation.

Afterwards, they received feedback and addressed the issues of breaking down the presentation into sections as not to overload attendees with information.

Price said the cultural sensitivity training is nowhere near finished and will require restructuring over time given that it is a new concept.

She said that CERC wants to have the curriculum finalized and published by September 2019.

“The end idea is that it’s something that we publish nationwide that says this is what we perceive cultural sensitivity to mean to Native students,” Price said.

CERC is also looking into creating a Mvskoke studies curriculum, more language efforts in the schools, cultural indicators and building rapport with Native students.

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  • Mary Orbison
    October 6, 2017, 9:41 am

    Does anyone know where I can get a grade school book on Oklahoma History? I was in the 5th and 6th grade in the 50’s