California classrooms should educate about Native American tribes

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Photo courtesy of Kenny Eliason | Viewpoints
By Darlene Dukelow-Burton

Our schools should include teaching local history in the classrooms.

Until now, it fell upon some dedicated teachers to try and fill the gaps where popular, generalized history left off and actual localized history existed.

However, local school districts in Riverside County, San Bernardino County and the state will be able to work together with local tribes to create task forces to build a better educational future for our children. They will start working to update American history lessons with factual information about the local Native American tribes.

Gov. Gavin Newsom just signed a new law measure from California Assemblymember James Ramos, bill AB 1703, the California Indian Education Act. It “encourages school districts, charter schools and county offices of education to engage with the tribes in their area to provide a more accurate and complete instruction about the tribes’ culture and history and share instructional materials with the California Department of Education.”

It would mean so much more if students learned about Native American tribes that live around them from the tribal members themselves. Members could easily be from the tribes closest to each educational institution. They could come to the school campuses to give cultural presentations in classes. Students will also be able to read about their own area’s history and put faces to their neighboring tribes in the present.

We could expect schools to reach a historical accuracy level that could eliminate past errors from continuing into the present.

No more would cultural ignorance cause a public uproar, like John W. North math teacher Candice Reed, who was terminated as an employee of Riverside Unified School District for that very reason. This level of insensitivity is not unusual for school systems, it merely varies.

Now is the chance to correct fundamental errors in the educational system. It will take time, but it is definitely a united step forward.

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