Plans for the first indigenous-led school in South Dakota underway with NDN Collective

Local News

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — It’s the first of its kind in South Dakota. An Indigenous-led school is in the works with NDN Collective in Rapid City.

The goal of this new private facility, named the Oceti Sakowin Community School, is to help Indigenous students succeed.

“We know that public education has been a compulsory imposition on indigenous people since its inception,”

Sarah Pierce is the Director of NDN’s Education Equity department. She says indigenous students in South Dakota are among some of the lowest in terms of graduation, achievement, and mobility rates.

“Our goal is to reclaim what has been lost through the process of the boarding school movement and such and be able to educate our kids in the way that we know will benefit them most,” Sarah Pierce, Director of Education Equity, said.

NDN Collective is partnering with NACA Inspired Schools Network, or NISN, to lead the school’s design process. NISN is an organization that supports leaders in indigenous communities to develop these community based schools.

“The whole school and the curriculum would be designed around the Oceti Sakowin essential understanding. Our school would have a lot of land-based learning. Lakota people, indigenous people have a strong connection to the land,” Mary Bowman, NISN Fellow, said.

Bowman says with culturally relevant lessons, indigenous students tend to be more engaged which leads to higher academic outcomes.

“We know that when students know who they are and where they come from, they have a strong sense of who they are so it will strengthen their cultural identity which overall will help them academically and when our indigenous students do well, all students in South Dakota will do well,” Bowman said.

The new school is expected to open Fall of 2022. NDN Collective has not found a specific location as of yet. If you are interested in the funding process or donating to the school. You can contact NDN Collective at (605) 791-3999 or visit its website.

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