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Grant will help GFPS support Indigenous education programs

Great Falls Public Schools Foundation board member Candice English
Grant will help GFPS support Indigenous education programs
Posted at 6:19 PM, Feb 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-15 20:24:52-05

GREAT FALLS — While the state of Montana is rooted in Native American history, there still remains a push for providing education on Indigenous culture, and Great Falls Public Schools will be doing just that after receiving a $20,000 grant to support Indigenous education programs.

As in many areas of public education, innovative ideas often outpace available funding, but Great Falls Public Schools is aiming to close that gap, as they are looking to develop new ways to teach their students about Indigenous culture. Projects will include building planting Sweetgrass, a plant held sacred by many Native American tribes, as well as raising garden beds in every public school in Great Falls.

Great Falls Public Schools Director of Indigenous Education Dugan Coburn said, "We have 51 different tribes in our community in Great Falls represented, and we want to start having artifacts that cover a large range of kids and then start doing the background with them. We're going to have our kids do the research, and then we'll be able to share that at all of our schools. "

The donation came from Sisters United, a non-profit organization founded by Great Falls Public Schools Foundation board member Candice English. She says starting with the kids is the best way to go.

English said, ""I think there's still a lot to know and I also think that the more we can just integrate our culture within mainstream culture is the most important thing."

Coburn says that he aims for this project to not only benefit Native American students, but all students who are hoping to learn more about Indigenous culture.

He explained, "This donation is making it so that we can affect the whole indigenous community of Great Falls by doing the things that we do with their kids and offering those cultural opportunities. It costs money to go on a bison hunt and to get the kids out there. That we didn't have before, so we can pay for a bus to take the kids out and have them participate and hear the stories and meet the elders as we do those things and process the bison ... It is such a great thing."

Coburn says that he aims for this project to not only benefit Native American students, but all students who are hoping to learn more about Indigenous Culture.

Coburn explained, "This donation is making it so that we can affect the whole indigenous community of Great Falls by doing the things that we do with their kids and offering those cultural opportunities. It costs money to go on a bison hunt and to get the kids out there. That we didn't have before, so we can pay for a bus to take the kids out and have them participate and hear the stories and meet the elders as we do those things and process the bison ... It is such a great thing."

Click here to learn more about the program, or if you would like to donate.


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