Ninety percent of Minnesotans support teaching more Native American content in K-12 schools
Prior Lake, Minn. — As Native American Heritage Month concludes, newly released data reveals that Minnesotans overwhelmingly support increasing education about tribes and Indigenous people in the state’s public schools. In a recent statewide public opinion survey, nine out of every 10 Minnesotans indicated that they support “increasing the teaching of Minnesota’s Native American history, culture and tribal government in the state’s K-12 public schools.” Ninety percent of respondents agreed with that statement, while 7% were opposed and 3% did not express an opinion.
The survey was commissioned by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) as a research project of Understand Native Minnesota, its philanthropic campaign to improve the narrative about Native peoples in Minnesota’s K-12 education system.
“Minnesotans clearly value the importance of educating students about the people indigenous to this land – the Dakota and Ojibwe people,” said SMSC Secretary/Treasurer Rebecca Crooks-Stratton, who is also the chair of Understand Native Minnesota. “This new information confirms our belief that improving the accuracy and amount of Native American-related subject matter in our schools is not only the right thing to do, but it is also overwhelmingly supported.”
- The survey results show that supermajorities of support exist in all demographic groups, regardless of political affiliation, geography, age or educational level. Supporters include:
- 81% of Republicans: 85% of GOP men and 77% of GOP women.
- 90% of political independents: 87% of men and 93% of women.
- 97% of Democrats: 92% of DFL men and 100% of DFL women.
- 80% of self-described conservatives, 95% of moderates and 97% of liberals.
- 92% of women and 88% of men.
- 90% of white Minnesotans and 96% of people of color.
- 90% or more in all self-reported income levels.
- 92% among college graduates and 87% among those without a college degree.
- 96% in the Twin Cities metro area, 85% in the Twin Cities collar counties, 95% in southern Minnesota, 87% in northwestern Minnesota and 85% in northeastern Minnesota.
“Our tribes are thriving sovereign nations within Minnesota. But many people don’t know about tribal sovereignty, the distinct identity each of the 11 tribes has or even about our very existence,” said SMSC Chairman Keith Anderson. “We hope these survey results will encourage educators, policy makers and parents to help the next generation achieve a higher degree of understanding between non-Natives and Natives than ever before in our state’s history.”
The Minnesota polling results show an even stronger degree of support for the teaching of Native subject matter than previous national polling data have shown. In Sept. 2017, the Reclaiming Native Truth project conducted a national public opinion survey of 3,200 adult Americans, which showed that 72% of Americans support “significant changes to K-12 curricula to ensure accurate Native history and culture are taught in schools.”
“The exciting thing about these numbers is how Minnesotans of every background respond positively to the idea of all kids learning more about Native Americans’ contemporary, lived experience,” said SMSC Vice-Chairman Cole Miller. “During my time as chair of our Wacipi (Pow Wow) committee, I have witnessed the curiosity and enthusiasm of visitors to our Community wanting to learn about Native culture. This poll confirms that this thirst for knowledge exists everywhere in our state.”
The survey also asked respondents about their familiarity with the two Native ethnicities in the state. Only 53% said they were very or somewhat familiar with the Dakota/Sioux people, while only 51% said they were very or somewhat familiar with the Ojibwe/Anishinaabe/Chippewa people.
Further, when asked how many tribes are located in Minnesota, most respondents were unable to answer. Only 18% of respondents were close to the correct answer of 11 separate tribal nations in a multiple-choice question.
The survey of 800 registered Minnesota voters was conducted Sept. 18-22, 2021, by Public Opinion Strategies, one of the nation’s leading public affairs research firms. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.46%.
About the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is a federally recognized, sovereign Dakota tribal government located southwest of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Following a Dakota tradition of generosity, the SMSC is one of the top philanthropists in Minnesota and is the largest contributor to other tribal governments and causes across the country. It is a strong community partner and a leader in protecting and restoring natural resources. The SMSC’s government, Gaming Enterprise and various other enterprises are collectively the largest employer in Scott County and attract millions of visitors to the region.
About Understand Native Minnesota
Understand Native Minnesota is a philanthropic campaign launched by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) in October 2019 to improve the Native American narrative in Minnesota’s K-12 public schools. The SMSC has committed $5 million for grantmaking to support research, teaching resources, professional development and educational programming. The campaign engages stakeholders and the interested public through convenings, listening sessions, a podcast, social media channels and other activities. For more information, visit UnderstandNativeMN.org.
Learn More About the SMSC
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