State legislators in 1989 passed statutes collectively known Act 31 in an effort to infuse American Indian studies into public education. Since that time, Wisconsin has required instruction in the history, culture and tribal sovereignty of the federally recognized tribes and bands in the state at both K-12 schools and in teacher education programs. Since July 1991, anyone seeking a license to serve as a professional educator in the state must receive instruction in these areas.
This legislation is rooted in the heated and sometimes violent treaty rights controversies related to the 1983 Voight Decision -- the federal court ruling which affirmed the reserved rights of the Lake Superior Bands of Chippewa. Through the 1980s and early 1990s, emotionally charged battles over tribal spear fishing and hunting rights took place between American Indians and non-Indians in Northern Wisconsin. At that time, the curriculum in Wisconsin's public schools included little about the history, culture or tribal sovereignty of the federally recognized tribes and bands in the state.
The Act 31 requirements were designed to provide Wisconsin's students with instruction in American Indian Studies because of its academic appropriateness and its potential to serve as a positive force with which to combat misunderstanding and social unrest.
Title VII, Part A, Indian Education
Title VII contains three parts, only one of which applies to education in Wisconsin. Part A of the federal regulation is specific to Indian Education.
As part of the federal trust responsibility, Title VII-Part A addresses the "unique educational and culturally-related academic needs," including language-related needs, of American Indian students through formula grants to eligible Local Education Agencies (LEA) and American Indian nations and tribal communities from U.S. Department of Education. The act also provides competitive grant opportunities for "Special Programs and Projects to Improve Educational Opportunities for Indian Children," and authorizes other expenditures to serve American Indians, including fellowships, gifted and talented education, and tribal educational planning grants.
Both Blugold education students and area teachers, please look here for valuable resources for educators to be used in implementing Title 7 requirements.
In my position as the American Indian Education Coordinator, I have reached out to the American Indian Studies program to help provide resources, expertise, guidance and mentoring to the work that I do in the ECASD school district. Dr. Barker has been a speaker at events for the Title VII program where she has spoken to students and parents. She is a wonderful resource for curriculum questions regarding ACT 31 and what is currently being used in the school district. Dr. Moody has also been a wonderful resource to the Indian Education program.