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Fort Washakie advocating for 'Indian Education for All' concept

Nov 22, 2015 By Christina George, Staff Writer

Fort Washakie school officials believe all native and non-native students deserve a comprehensive education inclusive of basic knowledge of Wyoming's first citizens.

The officials also think all Wyoming school personnel deserve an understanding of Wyoming's Indian tribes and knowledge of appropriate strategies to effectively relate to Indian students and families.

The two assertions are part of the 2015 Wyoming Indian Education Act for All that was passed by the Fremont County School District 21 Board of Education.

"The goal here is not to make somebody do something they don't want to do but, really, if people understood the culture ... that's beneficial to all people in the state of Wyoming," Fort Washakie superintendent Terry Ebert said.

The resolution was reviewed during the Wyoming School Boards Association annual conference Nov. 18-20 in Casper.

If the delegate assembly supports the resolution, the WSBA will lobby the Wyoming Legislature to approve it during a future legislative session, Ebert said.

Montana has legislated and implemented its own Indian education act, which could be used as a model to develop Wyoming's version, the Fort Washakie resolution states.

Not new

Support for such legislation isn't new in Wyoming. Fort Washakie submitted a similar resolution during last year's WSBA conference, and Fremont County School District 14 (Wyoming Indian) has proposed an Indian education act several times since 2008. Wyoming Indian's former superintendent Michelle Hoffman started talking about the legislation with lawmakers as early as 2006.

"This is not a new resolution, but it seems to be gaining momentum at the delegate assembly, so we are hopeful it will gain more support and will be passed by WSBA as a priority," Ebert said.

The resolution declares, "Omission of comprehensive and authentic information of Wyoming tribes' histories and contributions to contemporary society is detrimental to the overall education of all students."

It further states that all school districts should be obligated to prepare all students for success.

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