Posted by Isna Wica Owayawa (Loneman School) on Monday, October 20, 2014

Ivan Star Comes Out: Academic achievement remains on the 'back burner'

Native Sun News Today Columnist

Forty-three years and I’m still hearing grumblings in my community about Isna Wica Owayawa’s policy-making school board, teachers, and administrators and also about our Lakota language and culture programming. For 4 decades we did this. The only thing we accomplished was to ignore our student’s academic achievement. Students are capable; we just failed to step up to the plate.

As a community, we must realize that the school inherited a grave problem from the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1977 in the form of derisory academic achievement levels and high dropout rates. Since then, nearly every possible cause has been explored and counter-measures implemented but the problem persists.

As parents, school board, educators, and staff, we must look at the “big picture” and work together if we are to correct this grave problem. This requires a change in how things were done in our past. But first, let’s stop fighting each other simply because it has not benefited anyone, especially our students.

Ivan F. Star Comes Out. Photo courtesy Native Sun News Today

We must also keep in mind that Isna Wica Owayawa is an elementary school where children are formally taught a variety of academic subjects. Sadly, the school has served a number of other things, like an employment agency for family and friends. Also, past school board members have been used to carry out a family feud or a personal vendetta by former employees.

Today, I am encouraged by the fact that most parents and school employees realize that the educational process of our students require a team effort. With that, let us remind ourselves that the education process of each student begins at home. It is there they learn an attitude that stimulates the words “Hello,” “Thank you,” “You’re welcome” and “I’m sorry.”

Whatever your role may be within the educational team structure, we must all realize that home is where Isna Wica Owayawa students, your children, learn to be honest, are prompt, and are respectful of themselves and others. Home is where they learn to be organized, value their property and that of others.

Such social traits result from positive psychological growth or parental devotion in their homes which help our students to progress amicably through their learning processes. Schooling involves specific academic subjects like math and reading. Historically, the task of teaching students is seriously hindered by needless and irrational noise (politics) by staff, community members, as well as the board.

As for our Lakota language, culture, and history programming, its purpose is to inspire self-worth, a sense of relevancy and integrity, among our Lakota students with which they may better absorb reading and math skills, geography, physics, sciences, physical education, etc. Let us be reminded that Isna Wica Owayawa can only reinforce the education its students receive at home.


Support Native media!

Read the rest of the story on Native Sun News Today: Academic achievement remains on the “back burner”

Ivan F. Star Comes Out can be reached at P.O. Box 147, Oglala, South Dakota, 57764; via phone at 605-867-2448 or via email at

Join the Conversation