Giving Voice to Our Lakota People

Gina Fe Causin, Shelby Gull Laird, Chay Runnels, Judy A. Abbott, Sara Ross

Research output: Other contribution


Researchers at two universities worked with project partners to develop indigenous interpretive curriculum that provided the tools for indigenous students to tell their own stories and market their own heritage to visitors seeking an authentic experience. Project partners sought to identify elements that exemplify a culturally grounded approach to indigenous interpretation. It is assumed that indigenous interpretation will provide opportunities for non-native visitors to have meaningful experiences of native culture. It is also assumed that indigenous interpretation will foster a deeper understanding of the sacredness of native homelands, the resiliency and vulnerability of natural and cultural systems, and the beauty of harmonious relations between the earth and its inhabitants. Finally, it is assumed that as native youth gain skills in indigenous interpretation, they will make better decisions about which cultural stories and practices to share with the public (and which to retain unto themselves) and how to best share those stories with diverse audiences. This led to the development of indigenous interpretation and tourism curriculum in a tribal college in South Dakota. The proposed new degree plan includes core courses in natural and cultural history, psychology, business, Lakota language, and English. Within the set of core courses there is an emphasis in oral and written communication, digital communication, and experiential and place-based education. The project team proposed a set of three new interpretation courses and one new hospitality and tourism course to comprised the new concentration. The proposed course content and teaching pedagogy reflects an understanding of indigenous learning preferences and native ways of knowing. Proposed course content and teaching pedagogy also reflects professional standards of practice. Through a robust partnership, and active engagement by all partners in the curriculum development process, it is believed that indigenous students will gain new knowledge, an expanded skill set, and an enhanced career pathway. It is also believed that this partnership will provide opportunities to strengthen indigenous interpretation nationwide. Along with the new proposed concentration, the project team worked in tandem with fellow academics at tribal college to design program learning outcomes, assessment matrices and individual course syllabi. The four new courses proposed for the concentration will rely on adjunct faculty for course delivery that may include both an online and face to face component. Potential subject matter experts (SMEs) could include NPS personnel, hospitality and tourism professionals and others who bridge the gap between academia and practice. The model for this approach is based on a "Cloud of Support" that includes not only the Tribal Colleges and Universities {TCU), accrediting agency, faculty, staff and students, but also the Tribal Council, Elders, National Park Service (NPS), local partners and academic partners at other institutions.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Publication series

NameSchool of Human Sciences Research Showcase

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