AprUnderstanding Projectil 2015 was the first gathering of elders meeting in Bismarck, North Dakota. The elder representatives from the North Dakota tribal groups joined together in sharing, storytelling, and wisdom conversations to determine the development of the “understandings” about native culture, history, and lifestyle that are “essential” for all of North Dakota’s children to know.

This began the process of the development of the North Dakota Native American Essential Understanding  (NDNAEU) project. This project will allow students in schools to learn all of their usual academic subjects, gain an understanding about the traditional ways and concepts identified as essential by elders in North Dakota, as well as increase understanding and appreciation within the schools.

May 2015 was the second gathering of elders meeting in Bismarck, North Dakota. The elder representatives from the tribal groups in North Dakota joined together to look at the themes that came out of the first meeting in April and to determine the “understandings” about native culture and history that are “essential” for all of North Dakota students to know.  The common understandings were drafted that the tribes shared and language was developed for the NDNAEU. The seven “understandings” with short descriptors were developed from this meeting. Feedback and revisions were made by the elders and the final draft document was sent to the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction for review and approval.

Members of the NDNAEU team are Native American elders and educators that represent one of the many tribes indigenous to the land base that the current boundaries of North Dakota encompass.

North Dakota Native American Essential Understandings resource document was sent all schools in North Dakota.

The Teachings of our Elders website was developed as a part of Phase 2 of the NDNAEU Project. From 2016 up to the present, more tribal Elders are being interviewed and lessons tied to the NDNAEU are being developed by North Dakota Educators. All of these will be aligned with the NDNAEU and housed on the Teachings of our Elders website for use in North Dakota classrooms.

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