RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — Throughout history, indigenous students have not been well served in the U.S., including the Rapid City Area. However, the Rapid City school district hopes to change that.
The Rapid City School District says its indigenous students are seeing higher discipline rates and are performing among some of the lowest in the classrooms. Another concern is low graduation rates.
“The last graduating class, they only retained around 25-percent of that student population, So there is something going on within the school system and needs to be addressed right now,” Valeriah Big Eagle, President of Title 6 Indian Education Parent Advisory Committee, said.
Valeriah Big Eagle with the Indigenous Education Task Force is working to incorporate more of the Lakota culture into the classroom.
“Our Native American students will feel more of a sense of belonging and will really make them feel like they can be inherently indigenous,” Big Eagle said.
The Rapid City Schools and the Indigenous Education Task Force are working together to create a Cultural Immersion pilot at Canyon Lake in a classroom. That will be starting next fall.
“As we take the implementation of the Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings integration into our curriculum to scale, that benefits all students because it’s an important part of South Dakota History,” Lori Simon, Superintendant for RCAS, said.
Superintendent Lori Simon says while the district has seen positive results with indigenous education, there is still a lot of work to be done.
The Indigenous Education Task Force consists of 12 members from all over the Rapid City Community.