Shawnee State Senator Ron Sharp held an interim study this week at the State Capitol to discuss potentially adding instruction about tribal sovereignty and tribal histories to the Oklahoma public school curriculum.
Thursday’s interim study concentrated on building a partnership between the state of Oklahoma and tribal governments to bring American Indian histories and cultures into classrooms across the state. Several state and educational leaders were in attendance and offered testimony in their area of expertise.
Speakers for the interim study included Absentee Shawnee Tribe Governor Edwina Butler-Wolfe; Debbie Hogue-Downing, retired teacher from Shawnee Public Schools and Native American Taskforce member; and Lucyann Harjo, Director of Indian Education at Norman Public Schools and President of the Oklahoma Council for Indian Education. Other speakers were Dr. Blue Clark, Professor of Law from Oklahoma City University School of Law; John Harris, government and social studies teacher from Big Pasture Public Schools; and public school students, Bella Cornell and Jalen Black.
“Oklahoma has 39 separate federally recognized tribes and it’s very important for students to understand we have three sovereign governments in Oklahoma; federal, state and the 39 tribes,” said Sharp, who is also a former teacher. “All of these comprise who we are in the state of Oklahoma and the presentations we heard in the interim study highlighted even further the importance of bringing that education and understanding into our classrooms.”