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Learning From Indigenous Elders

This is a 7-week virtual class using the Zoom platform. Important tribal stories, songs and cultural perspectives.

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Time & Location





About this class

Learning From Indigenous Elders through the North Dakota Native American Essential Understandings

In the spring of 2015, the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction brought together tribal Elders from across North Dakota to share stories, memories, songs and wisdom in order to develop the North Dakota Native American Essential Understandings (NDNAEU) to guide the learning of both Native and non-Native students across the state. Similar Essential Understandings have been developed and are being used in several other states already, and more are making plans to begin a similar process. Many tribal Elders have had input into these understandings, and it is hoped that the NDNAEU themselves will open up many more additional opportunities for tribal Elders and Educational Leaders to impact ND classroom practice with important tribal stories, songs and cultural perspectives.

This is a 7-week virtual class using the Zoom platform.  Tuesdays: Feb 1, 8, 15, 22, March 1, 8, 15 - 6-8 pm CST

This Learning From Indigenous Elders course, led by Dr. Scott Simpson and Sharla Steever, the Learning Specialists who helped facilitate the process as the Elders wrote the NDNAEU, will guide participants in exploring all seven of the essential understandings through reading the document and through engaging in journaling and conversations around selected examples from the more than 300 Elder interview video clips compiled on the website. We will explore ideas and stories presented by these Elders in the context of the NDNAEU while making personal connections through the Circle of Trust process developed by Parker Palmer and the Center for Courage & Renewal (

Simpson and Steever are both Courage & Renewal facilitators, and have used aspects of this process to guide Elder conversations in developing the NDNAEU, helping educators gain deep understanding of the NDNAEU, and helping teachers to create meaningful learning experiences for their students as they engage with the NDNAEU and with Elder interviews. Participants will learn a great deal ABOUT the Indigenous people of North Dakota in this course, but more importantly, they will have an opportunity to learn FROM the Indigenous people of our state in a way that will be personally meaningful and perhaps even transformative.

HND Value Statement

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this {article, book, exhibition, film, program, database, report, Web resource}, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or Humanities North Dakota.

However, in an increasingly polarized world, we at Humanities North Dakota believe that being open-minded is necessary to thinking critically and rationally.

Therefore, our programs and classes reflect our own open-mindedness in the inquiry, seeking, and acquiring of scholars to speak at our events and teach classes for our Public University.

To that end, we encourage our participants to join us in stepping outside our comfort zones and considering other perspectives and ideas by being open-minded while attending HND events featuring scholars who hold a variety of opinions, some being opposite of our own held beliefs.

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