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NATIVE LEARNING: The Sovereign Community School aims to educate next generation of Indigenous leaders

Photo courtesy of Sovereign Community School
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OKLAHOMA CITY — With a curriculum that is based in white colonialism, the identity of many Native Americans kids is in danger of having their history and traditions lost, preventing the next generation of Indigenous leader from succeeding and having their voices heard. Motivating and activating these students into picking up the torch of Native leadership is one of the reasons the need for a Native American-based charter school is so important, especially in Oklahoma.

“There are over 130,000 Native kids enrolled in public school across Oklahoma state,” said Phil Gover, founding director of Sovereign Community School. “That’s like 1 in every 6 kids have an Indigenous identity, and yet the state overall is really far behind in thinking about how to deliver culturally appropriate and responsive curriculum. What we hope with the Sovereign Community School is that by setting a really good example in the district of what high-quality curriculum design and teacher development could look like, we really raise the bar for all Indian education in the district and outside the district.”

Using the gold standards in Native schooling—Montana’s Indian Education for All and Washington State’s Sovereignty Hybrid Curriculum—as examples of what’s possible at the state level in education policy, Gover believes the Indian education is the “next and last frontier of tribal sovereignty,” with tribe’s answering for themselves what their role should be in local education.

“We’re so used to playing a passive role in our kids’ education that I think this is more about activating parents and kids and community leaders and galvanizing around this idea that education is important,” Gover added. “But more than anything, I think we can purposefully develop the next generation to lead in the ways we need them to lead for our culture to perpetuate. We have a school system that largely colonizes kids, one that isn’t designed to tell the full story of what happened in our state, why all these tribes are here and what happened to them and, frankly, what Oklahoma did to them.”

Still in the development stages, the School Design Committee of the Sovereign Community School is hosting an evening of dinner and discussion about the direction of Indian education in Oklahoma City at 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 28th at the Oklahoma City Muscogee Creek Association, located at 4111 N. Lincoln Blvd.

Metro area parents, grandparents, guardians, elders, educators and anyone interested in “expanding options for culturally relevant schools for Native families” are welcome to attend. During this session, attendees will have an opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas about schooling and education, as well as the “challenges and opportunities they see in their own city for their kids.” Attendees will also learn more about the Sovereign Schools Project, and their efforts to “build schools of excellence and relevance for Native families across the state.”

The event is free and dinner and childcare is provided, but attendees must register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/indian-education-dinner-discussion-family-night-tickets-38033174248

“There’s very few times in our lives we as parents get to ask what do we want for our kids,” Gover said. “This is an open forum, a chance to be real about our community and our children. There’s so few opportunities like this, especially for Native people, but also for broader conversation and earnest discussion about our values and our ideas of what education can and should be. This is a game changer for the Oklahoma City Native community but there is a difficult road ahead to make it a reality. This is a chance to have your voice be heard.”

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Louis Fowler

Güicho. Gadfly. Chicano. Choctaw. Cristero. Freelancer. Leftist. Activist. Vilified. PKD....

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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