Published November 19, 2016
WELCH, MINNESOTA — Gathering for its 32nd year, the Minnesota Indian Education Association hosts its annual conference at the Prairie Island Dakota Indian Community’s Treasure Island Casino & Resort. Hundreds of educators, students, and community leaders from various states gathered to celebrate an organization dedicated to promoting quality education, American Indian culture in the classroom and unity for American Indian people.
With presentations and workshops from educators and policy makers from various fields in education, a keynote presentation Rev. Dr. Michael Oleska from the State of Alaska, a youth day, and language bowls featuring both Ojibwe and Dakota it is an event that has been more than 60 years in the making.
“We made history today,” exclaimed Chairman Minnesota Indian Education Association Suzanne Wise. “It is the first—ever—Dakota Language Bowl! It shows our communities are finding new ways to save what we have left so we can continue to thrive.”
Dr. Michael Oleska delivered a pertinent presentation on communication and how it influences many things including learning. Using a variety of stories, examples and demonstrations, Dr. Oleska discussed how many rural communities of Alaska see the rotation of outside educators every few years as a result of miscommunication.
Using learning as a descriptor, Dr. Oleska elaborated on how tempo influences the way that many people communicate and miscommunicate. In other words, to some people what is fast learning, speaking, hearing may be normal and vice versa. In slower paced environments, such as many Indian reservations, outside educators coming from the fast paced world of larger populated communities may view those with a slightly more relaxed lifestyle as not as fast as a learner and often have a disconnect and a disengagement from the community. Of course, the difference in tempo may be the contributor to disengagement, but more to the point the message Dr. Oleska wanted everyone to take away is: “expect miscommunication to always happen!”
Participants were also able to hear the updates from the National Indian Education Association regarding the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and how it applies to each school district and community. The opportunity also included input in what should be implemented into the act.
Awards ceremonies included the recognition of many outstanding champions in education, both to educators and students giving the conference a beautiful feeling of belonging and success. And with a powwow, cultural event, and tours of the Prairie Island Dakota Community, it is definitely a historical educational conference that the organization strived to improve on its many years of success.
For more information on the Minnesota Indian Education, please visit www.minnesotaindianeducation.org
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