Friday, April 22, 2016

Spearfish boy helping to preserve American Indian languages

Mato Standing High practically lived at our house in Spearfish from 1983 until he and my stepson graduated high school in 1994. As both my step kids did he got his Bachelors of Science at the University of Wyoming.

A Bush Fellow and a member of the Sicangu Oyate, he is an attorney having received his Juris Doctor at University of Montana Law School. He has also taught at Black Hills State University, a leader in American Indian Studies.
Underperforming South Dakota schools with majority American Indian student populations will be able to apply for $2 million in state grants to overhaul their curricula this summer. Standing High said the alternative model schools and another grant program that will offer state-subsidized scholarships for paraprofessionals working in majority American Indian schools could help boost South Dakota's American Indian retention rates. The Indian Education Advisory Council has visited schools in New Mexico and Colorado that focus more on Native culture and yield higher graduation rates for American Indian students. “We’re barely scratching this surface with these two programs, but if we’re successful, legislators are already asking what’s next," Standing High said. "So we’re planting the seeds.” [Dana Ferguson, Sioux Falls Argus Leader]
Let's see how this novel choice in education works.
The graduation rate for Native Americans nationally hovers at about 50 percent — compared to just over 80 percent for all U.S. students. But at Walatowa, the graduation rate is 91 percent — a figure that outranks the state average for Native American graduates (64 percent) and most other charter schools in New Mexico. All but five of the school’s 68 students are Native American. Students credit Walatowa’s small, welcoming community — which stresses the teaching of Native values, culture and the pueblo’s traditional language, Towa. Even non-Native students have found in the school an environment where they can thrive. [Santa Fe New Mexican]
The Cheyenne River Sioux Nation is developing a Lakota language immersion curriculum.

Standing High is a human rights activist who participates in the Lakota Omniciye Wacipi.

No doubt he has heard me expounding on the importance of preserving indigenous languages as i have been ranting about it for over twenty five years. My young nephews called him "My Toad." Mato is Lakota for bear.

Here is a post from 2010. If the Rapid City Journal archived old Mount Blogmore posts we could read more.

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