- By Neely Bardwell
A bill introduced in the Michigan Legislature last month aims to encourage the State Board of Education to ensure that accurate history about Indian boarding schools is taught to grades 8th through 12th. Currently, some secondary schools already teach include Indian boarding schools history in their curriculum, but many people believe that there are not enough school districts that do.
The bill, SB876, was introduced by Republican Michigan state Sen. Wayne Schmidt in the Michigan State Senate on Feb. 16, 2022. A co-sponsor of the legislation was Michigan state Sen. Irwin, a Democrat, who is a tribal citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa.
“I think it's important that kids learn about history and civics, but it's especially important that they learn about our history here in Michigan. And that necessarily includes the history of the Tribes and the people who lived here long before European settlers got here. And it absolutely must include the history of these Indian boarding schools, which was an incredibly terrible and racist effort that our very government engaged in to try to erase these cultures, or race these languages and eradicate these people,” Irwin said to Native News Online.
Current state education standards for these grades currently contain a portion of Native American history. However, some say this history is inaccurate by omission. Many say that the current standards regarding the teaching of Native American history is not strong enough because it leaves too many things out, specifically the history of Indian boarding schools.
SB876 is a strong step towards making 8th-12th grade history lessons more inclusive of Native American history. Sen. Irwin emphasizes just how important teaching this history is by saying:
Recently, conversations regarding Critical Race Theory have been all over the media. People have been questioning what it means, and if it should even be taught in K-12.
Senator Irwin expressed his concern about whether or not his Republican counterparts will push back on this bill saying:
“I do expect pushback. Because race and racism is such an important part of politics in America today,” Irwin said.
“There are a lot of folks who, lately, have been using the ‘boogeyman’ of Critical Race Theory, pretending that that's taught in our schools and trying to use that to scare people into thinking that schools are some sort of left wing indoctrination center. It's just ridiculous,” Irwin continued. “I expect some of my colleagues will oppose this because they want to play into that message, because that message is advantageous to them. You know, racism is advantageous to some people's politics.”
Tell Us What You Think
More Stories Like ThisBard College Gets $50 Million Boost for Indigenous Studies Program
American Indian College Fund President Cheryl Crazy Bull Named Member of the Thrive Leaders Network
Princeton University to Provide Financial Assistance to Students Whose Families Earn Less Than $100K
Can Better Data Help UM Retain Indigenous Students?
New Study Reveals Challenges of College Affordability for Native Students
Do you appreciate a Native perspective on the news?
For the past decade-plus, we’ve covered the important Indigenous stories that are often overlooked by other media. From the protests at Standing Rock and the toppling of colonizer statues during the racial equity protests, to the ongoing epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) and the past-due reckoning related to assimilation, cultural genocide and Indian Boarding Schools, we have been there to provide a Native perspective and elevate Native voices.
Our news is free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation this month to help support our efforts. Any contribution — big or small — helps us remain a force for change in Indian Country and continue telling the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked. Most often, our donors make a one-time gift of $20 or more, while many choose to make a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10. Whatever you can do, it helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Native news.
Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.