Columbia Heights Public Schools recognized by Indian Land Tenure Association

A representative from the Indian Land Tenure Association publicly recognized Columbia Heights Public Schools for its work in incorporating the Lessons of Our Land curriculum across the school district. The curriculum incorporates Native American Stories and lessons into regular classroom instruction.

Nicholas Emmons, program and development officer for the Indian Land Tenure Foundation, spoke to the School Board during its Oct. 13 meeting as part of a presentation with teaching and learning leaders on the curriculum integration, and also to recognize the district for its efforts.

“We have been so impressed with the teachers here at Columbia Heights in using our curriculum,” Emmons said. “It has been one of the most encouraging parts of our education programs to date.”

He complimented the board for its support of the initiative and noted that his association recognized the district’s achievements through its publications.

Interim Director of Teaching and Learning Zena Stenvik said Emmons approached her team to explain the wealth of American Indian educational resources available through his association and other organizations. From these, Stenvik shared that the district has been integrating the resources into professional development and classroom practices.

“We didn’t realize how many opportunities there were and how much curriculum was available to our team through this partnership,” she said.

Curriculum Coordinator Tara Thukral said the integration included a complete review of American Indian standards in Minnesota.

“We identified general and specific standards in our arts, English, science, social studies and even physical education,” she said. Thukral added that the inclusive curriculum objective is to embed the Native American narrative and perspective into both the curricular and instructional practices.

“We selected curriculum through a lens or a spectra around Native American topics,”Stenvik said. “We wanted to make sure our Native American students see themselves in the present day succeeding.”