"Denise Juneau, Mandan and Hidatsa, grew up in Browning, Montana, located on the Blackfeet Reservation. In 2008 she was elected as the superintendent of Public Instruction, the first American Indian woman to be elected to a statewide executive office in Montana.
She was recently invited by President Barack Obama to speak at the Democratic National Convention being held in Charlotte, North Carolina September 4-6.
Indian Country Today Media Network spoke with her about her views on education in Montana, specifically Indian Education For All, a policy written into the state’s constitution in 1972 to include Native knowledge across curriculums.
Has there been any resistance from teachers in implementing IEFA?
I’d say the majority of our teachers throughout the state have received at least an awareness training. Even before the lawsuit, [a 2004 Montana Supreme Court decision in Columbia Falls v. Montana addressed the lack of adequate funding for public schools in which IEFA was a key case component] we brought together tribal educators and went through a process where we said, “Okay, we need to get some information out there. What is it that you want everybody in our state to know about tribes?” Knowing that every tribe’s cultural practices and histories are different, what could be common things tribes want people to know about them? Before the lawsuit started, we were able to create an Essential Understanding that still forms the basis of everything we do. Everything ties into those tenants of cultural understanding."
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Denise Juneau to Speak About Indian Education at Democratic National Convention
(Indian Country Today 9/3)
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