Sixth-grade Minnesota Studies students at McGuire Middle School had a unique firsthand learning opportunity thanks to speaker Carla Thompson Kurtz, who visited the school Nov. 29 to speak with students about the culture and history of American Indian communities in the state.
Carla welcomed students with the Lakota phrase “Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ,” an expression of the belief in universal interconnectedness commonly held by the Lakota people and many other American Indian cultures.
“It means, ‘we are all related,'” Carla said.
Carla told about her time growing up in north-central Minnesota within a community of the Kul Wicasa Oyate, or Lower Brulé Sioux, belonging to the Lakota tribe. She shared a selection of items with the students to illustrate important concepts in Lakota culture, including an abolone shell, sage, sweetgrass, cedar and an artificial bald eagle feather.
Students learned about the Dakota and Ojibwe in Minnesota and the history of treaties in the state, beginning in 1805, when a treaty with the Dakota ceded most of Minneapolis and St. Paul and laid claim to land leading to the construction of Fort Snelling, and leading up to the Nelson Act of 1899, when Minnesota applied for inclusion under the federal Dawes Allotment Act of 1883, establishing a commission to negotiate the relinquishment of all remaining American Indian reservations. Only White Earth and Red Lake remained.
Tim Soliday and Madison McBride teach sixth grade at McGuire Middle School and made the request to host an American Indian speaker to help enrich the learning of their Minnesota Studies classes.
The students also learned about American Indian culture by taking a look inside the American Indian Culture Trunk, started last year through the American Indian grant. The trunk holds a collection of cultural artifacts, maps and culturally relevant books for students in elementary through high school. The trunk is available to be borrowed by any school. The program will continue to be expanded through the inclusion of additional cultural items.