Skip to Content
What can we help you find?
SDTR Office of
Indian Education
Office of Indian Education Logo

Oceti Sakowin Project

The 2007 Indian Education Act mandated the development of course content for curriculum and coursework in South Dakota American Indian history and culture. As a result of this mandate, the South Dakota Office of Indian Education pursued funding in order to begin the development of materials.

In 2008, the Indian Land Tenure Foundation awarded a grant to the South Dakota Office of Indian Education to begin the Oceti Sakowin Project. Many talented and passionate educators worked together to develop the Oceti Sakowin Core Concepts. The Essential Understandings and Standards was developed by a smaller work group. The project was completed in July 2011 and approved by the South Dakota Board of Education.

Although much time and energy was put into the project, it is just the beginning and a small step toward the work that needs to be done in creating curriculum and course work in the history and culture of the Oceti Sakowin. Since the Oceti Sakowin culture is based in oral tradition, there are other versions of the history and culture that are also correct. The goal of this project was to give school districts in South Dakota some basic knowledge about the Oceti Sakowin.

The Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings and Standards are included in the state's standards and revision cycle that are adopted by the State Board of Education Standards. The last review and adoption was completed in March 2018.

Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings and Standards

Core Concepts

The Core Concept development was the first phase of the project which began in 2008 and was completed in August 2010. The development team consisted of a diverse group of individuals from across the state. This included educators of American Indian students in public school districts with both a high and low population of American Indian students. In addition, there were experts in culture, history, oral traditions, and language along with Department of Education staff. The goal of the first phase of the project was to identify core concepts that are essential to understanding and teaching the Oceti Sakowin history and culture.

Essential Understandings And Standards Working Group

Upon completion of the identification of the Oceti Sakowin Core Concepts, a smaller work group was created to develop essential understandings and standards. The group was comprised of members of the original group who had experience in writing standards and one American Indian Studies teacher from a public school district that serves a high number of non-Native students. The group consulted with Montana's Office of Indian Education, and the Indian Land Tenure Foundation's standards work. The format created for the development of the work was designed to provide compatibility to the South Dakota social studies standards. The essential understandings captured the core concepts that were developed by the larger group. Indicators, standards and activities were written to provide a framework for additional work and various forms of implementation. Culturally appropriate work created by other sources was identified to support suggested activities.

Curriculum Development

Over the course of the years 2012-15, the Oceti Sakowin workgroup will develop curriculum based on the South Dakota Essential Understandings and Standards. The curriculum will include the cultural background information that is necessary to teaching about the Oceti Sakowin. The curriculum will include content from a variety of cultural experts, specific subject area experts and community experts. A blend of oral tradition and written historical perspectives will be utilized throughout the project. The curriculum will include examples of how standards from the Common Core, state standards and Oceti Sakowin standards could be taught together. In addition to some printed materials, the goal is that all of the curriculum would be easily accessible online. The online design will include video/audio segments that relate to each unit.

Related Links