Senate votes to help teachers implement Native American history in classrooms

OLYMPIA— The state Senate voted late today give teachers tools to implement Washington state tribal history into their curriculum.

“If we have any hope to bring peace to our increasingly polarized country, we must focus on teaching our children a fact-driven, accurate narrative of our collective history,” said Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, prime sponsor of Senate Bill 5028. “Understanding tribal treaty rights and the history of our 29 federally recognized indigenous sovereign nations is crucial to understanding the past and present of our great state.

“There have been many great tribal leaders, like Bill Frank Jr., whose legacy deserves to be taught in our schools. It is also important that students are learning about some of the hard realities – how thousands of Native American children were separated from their families and ‘assimilated’ at government or religious boarding schools run by white missionaries in the 19th and 20th centuries.

“Sadly, there are many misconceptions about our community. Most students have only been exposed to Native American history through a Eurocentric view which completely excludes tribal perspective. Tribes across the state are stepping up their efforts to partner with local elementary, middle and high schools to give students a fuller perspective about who Native Americans are. The goal is to build bonds that will result in a lasting cultural understanding. Telling your own story is powerful; it is time we enfranchize those so often left out of our classrooms.”

SB 5028 strengthens legislation passed in 2015 that requires all schools to use curriculum called “Since Time Immemorial: Tribal Sovereignty in Washington State.” The curriculum materials are free to educators and were developed through a careful collaboration of state, tribal and local leaders.





For information: Bre Weider, Senate Democratic Communications, 360-786-7326