by Dr. Erich Longie, Lead Cultural Consultant
While demonstrating our games for teachers, parents and students at the Tribal Disability Conference at Turtle Mountain this week, I was thinking about how learning about math together with Dakota culture makes perfect sense.
Native Americans are one of the two involuntary minorities in the U.S. (African-Americans are the other one.) This basically means that Indians still think of themselves as Indian first and American second, therefore, Native Americans view education as something foreigners are forcing on them, something they really don’t need.
However, when Dakota culture is taught simultaneously, their pride in learning about their culture often outweighs the dislike they have for the core subject and it makes learning the subject much easier. This is what our math games do and one of the major reasons why they have been effective with some children who had previously been resistant to learning the subject.
One thing that struck me is how positive the reaction is from people who see their language, whether it is Dakota or Ojibwe, and how enthusiastic they get – and that is not just school children, but even their parents and grandparents.