After 18 months in development, Oregon’s Department of Education has begun circulating Native American-focused curriculum created under Senate Bill 13.
SB 13, also known as “Tribal History/Shared History,” was passed in 2017, and called for a collaboration between ODE and the state’s nine native tribes to develop 45 lesson plans for K-12 education. The bill stipulates that the curriculum be “Historically accurate, culturally relevant, community-based, contemporary and developmentally appropriate,” with focuses in “tribal history, sovereignty issues, culture, treaty rights, government, socioeconomic experiences and current events.”
ODE began rolling out the curriculum this month with lesson plans for grades four, eight and 10. April Campbell, advisor to the deputy state superintendent on Indian education, told the Associated Press “We were hoping to have all 45 lessons up before the beginning of this school year and now we’re just putting up some of the lessons this month.”
Campbell reports that identifying the core pillars of the curriculum took more time than anticipated, and as a result not all of the lesson plans were prepared for January. She says that ODE plans to fully implement the curriculum across all grades this summer.
Indian educator and member of the Confederated Tribe of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians Branda Brainard gave her thoughts on the curriculum: “It just warms my heart and makes me happy. It makes me smile. Having worked in Indian education for 25 years, I never thought this would happen – I never dreamed.”
Meanwhile Rachel Hsieh, a fourth grade teacher at Eugene’s Malabon Elementary School, speaks to the efficacy of the material. “Kids just come in and are naturally so open-minded. I think it’s our grownups who have a harder time. … Kids see the injustices faster.”