Students at Cedar Island Elementary School participated in a school-wide assembly with Ethan Neerdaels, the coordinator of Indian Education, during Native American Heritage Month. The assembly kicked-off the Student Identity Project at Cedar Island, where kids are learning about identity and who they are.
Neerdaels talked with the students about the Dakota language, which is the original language of Minnesota, and how not as many children are learning the language and speaking it. He shared that the Dakota people pass on their traditions through storytelling and sharing time together, and told the students one of the stories. Neerdaels also shared that today, native people are bringing their identities back, both at home and in the community.
“It is really important to know, because a lot of times in schools and society, people don’t meet a Native person or they think that we have all been erased, but we’re still here today,” Neerdaels told the students.
As another part of the Student Identity Project at Cedar Island, there are cut out trees in the hallway with students' pictures on them. In class, students provided information about their identity to add to the trees so that the students could get to know each other better. The students are learning about each other's personalities and what makes them unique.
Osseo Area Schools has over 500 Native American students representing over 80 tribal nations. To learn more about the district American Indian Education program, visit the district website.