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Opinion: Indian education benefits all Montanans

"Tragically, Americans know next to nothing about our country's native people. Even here in 'Indian Country,' the Rocky Mountain West, our schools neglect Indian history. Montanans, finally, are accepting the opportunity, encouraged by Title X of our 1972 state constitution to study, through our schools, the vitally important history of Native Americans. The key words in what has become known as 'Indian Education for All' are the last two: 'for all.' Those who are not Indians need to understand the significant contributions of Indian government, art, medicine, agriculture, languages and customs to our lives.

Indian influences surround us, and, yet, we seem sightless in our recognition of them. Do we know, for example, that almost half the states in America have names derived from Indian words or that many of our most commonly used words are from Indian languages including: pecan, hickory, chipmunk, moose, raccoon and hundreds of others.

The names of the tribes whose people occupied these Western lands are also virtually unknown to most Americans: Hidatsa, Sans Arch, Atsina, Sihasapa and Siksika. They and others introduced many of our favorite foods: corn, squash, potatoes, peanuts, vanilla, pumpkins and avocados. Implements that are important here in the West, such as canoes, snowshoes and fishhooks, came from Indians. Many historians agree that lacrosse, baseball and the rubber ball were adopted from Indian games."

Get the Story:
Pat Williams: All Montanans will benefit from Indian education (The Billings Gazette 7/14)

Relevant Links:
Montana Indian Education Association -
Montana Office of Public Instruction -

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