July 6, 2018


New course helps educators incorporate Native American curriculum into classrooms


MSU Billings offers course to integrate Native pedagogy



University Relations, 657-2266


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Montana State University Billings professors recently offered a course to help teachers incorporate Native American curriculum in their classrooms.


A Theoretical Framework for Applying Native American Culture in Education (EDU 494/EDCI 5940) was designed and developed by Dr. Florence M. Garcia, Dr. Johnel Barcus, and Dr. Joseph McGeshick. 

The three-credit, comprehensive course helps bridge cultural dissonance to prepare K-12 teachers for higher levels of learning and teaching. The course incorporates Native pedagogy and assists teachers in integrating Native American relevant curriculum. Twenty-five participants enrolled in the inaugural summer course, including K-12 teachers from Billings, Pryor, and Crow Agency, as well as an English as a Second Language (ESL) Coordinator, librarian, and staff from Great Falls College at Montana State University.

All K-12 teachers in Montana are required to have a basic knowledge of Native American culture as part of the Indian Education for All (IEFA) Act, a Montana constitutional mandate passed in 1999 to address the achievement gap of Native American students and recognize the American Indian cultural heritage. Over the years, it has become increasingly important for educators to expand to a higher level of theory and pedagogy and learn to apply appropriate Native American culture into the educational process.

In addition to discussing theory and practice, teachers traveled to the Crow and Northern Cheyenne reservations to visit Lame Deer Elementary School, Chief Dull Knife College, and Little Big Horn College. It was the first time visiting these reservations for many of the participants. “This was one of the most overwhelming, interesting…eye-opening, inviting, informative classes I have ever taken. I have cried and laughed, made relationships and felt initiated into cultures and families. Every teacher and every Montanan…or human should take this class as it opens your mind and opens your heart,” a participant noted.

Dr. Florence M. Garcia, associate dean of City College, was awarded a Title II grant from Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education (OCHE) to cover the entire cost of the course for K-12 teachers, faculty, and staff. Educators who participated in the class could use the course to meet state licensure requirements.

Participants who were involved in the course noted how powerful it was for them. One shared “I am so thankful for the quality of speakers this course has provided. Usually by day three of any workshop, I am done with sitting in a classroom…that was not the case…it [this course] reiterated how powerful education is to the youth and future of the Tribes.”

For more information, contact Dr. Florence M. Garcia at 406-247-3010 or florence.garcia@msubillings.edu.