COMMUNITY VOICES | New charter school Bdote Learning Center will offer Ojibwe and Dakota language immersion

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On Oct 10, 2013, at 7:21 AM, Joe Nathan wrote:

* A significant # of the secondary charters in Mpls and St Paul serve youngsters who have not succeeded in traditional schools – or with whom traditional schools have not succeeded.

I would add to this balancing the educational system with curriculum that is lacking or in very short supply. Despite the fact that Minnesota is a major geographic site for Anishinabe and Dakota people and nations, the public schools reflect almost no study of the languages and cultures of these people. In this age of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, enacted in the United Nations in 2007, the Minneapolis public education system has been exceedingly slow to add the languages and cultures of the native people of this state. Sprawling over the borders of Minnesota (they predate the state) a rich band of cultures and languages is here right under our eyes, so to speak.

Now, Bdote Learning Center, a new charter school for grades K-8, will open in 2014. It will begin with grades K-3 – to be followed by adding one grade per year to 8th grade in 2019. Chair of the Bdote board Elaine Salinas, says it is important to remember Bdotes core: We will use place-based curriculum, but this will be combined with an Ojibwe and Dakota language immersion experience. Bdote will be especially attractive to Indigenous families, but all children will be welcomed.

The school has received a boost from the Administration of Native Americans with a three-year grant totaling over $700k. Over the past year, funding was also received from the Walton Family Foundation for start-up costs and the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, Dakota and Ojibwe Language Revitalization Grants, for the development of Bdote language immersion curriculum.

This is an opportunity for public education to add to work already being done at Anishinabe Academy, a Minneapolis Magnet Public School focusing on high academic achievement through Native American culture and language. It offers a traditional pre-kindergarten program in the morning and an Ojibwe Language Immersion Program in the afternoon.

Center School offers Ojibwe and Dakota to 7-12th grade. It is a contract school. South High School in the All Nations Program offers Ojibwe language I, II, and III.

Bdote will offer both Ojibwe and Dakota language immersion.

So in the case of Bdote, we will see a new educational design coming online because the public system needs support, curriculum where there was none or not enough, and opportunities for all Minneapolis families to be able to send their children where they can learn using the native languages of this state.

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