Integrating Native American Mdewakantion Sioux culture with environmental science curriculum
Herdina, Kyle Lawrence
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Native American students struggle to form a connection to science education due to a lack of culturally relevant material. While many state teaching standards require educators to attend a cultural awareness course as part of the licensure process, there is a lack of culturally relevant materials available to educators. The need to develop culturally relevant resources that is engaging to Native American students has driven many educators to develop their own material. In this study, educators spent time researching and developing a cultural plant field guide to use within their environmental education and outreach program on the reservation. Participants were given questionnaires, content knowledge self-assessments, and structured interviews in order to determine their knowledge of cultural plants before and after the activity, what resources they relied on when identifying and researching cultural plants, as well as their perspective on developing their own resources. The results from the data collection methods showed that educators had minimal knowledge of cultural plants as well as minimal knowledge on where to locate resources on this subject. Their frustration in finding appropriate resources to utilize was notable and brought awareness as to a void that needed to be filled. While the educators expressed their desire to utilize existing resources to teach with they did note that the process of developing their own material provided them with a better background knowledge and confidence of the material as well as a the likelihood that they would utilize the material they created in the future.