University Relations and Communications
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
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
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.”