American Indian Education funding for Nevis School for the 2018-19 school year, totaling $22,148, will help provide a variety of resources.

Some proposed uses include cultural activities, guest speakers, after-school tutoring, college visits and ACT test preparation and fees for American Indian students.

The recount was necessary because of the complicated way ethnicity reported on forms filled out by parents influenced the American Indian count.

Nevis initially reported having 15 American Indian students on Oct. 1, 2018. Parents who believed their student’s ethnicity was incorrectly identified were allowed to complete a corrected form this spring, which resulted in the corrected number of 26 students.

The district made an appeal to the Minnesota Department of Education for the recount of American Indian students, which resulted in the decision to award the funds.

Building cultural bridges

“We realize we’re a diverse population, and I think it’s excellent for us to be able to understand the background of everybody and gain cultural awareness of how we are different and similar from each other,” Superintendent Gregg Parks said.

“The advisory committee will make recommendations for us. Moving forward we want to make sure we have a culturally responsive and accurate curriculum, so we’re working within the state curriculum to make that happen. We’re also purchasing books for classrooms and the library. “We try to provide as much diversity as possible within our curriculum.”

In September, the district hired Mel Buckholtz for a position that includes serving half of his time as the American Indian liaison and the other half as a paraprofessional.

“Having Mel in the building has created a strong sense of an American Indian male role model for us, and he’s doing a phenomenal job of working with kids,” Parks said. “He is part of our greeting crew in the morning. We’re really working on increasing attendance, making all of our students feel connected with the staff and the community here.”

Buckholtz works on cultural activities with students, establishing connections and attendance and trying to reduce disciplinary incidents.

“He’s also a connection with the homes,” Parks added.

In addition to working with individuals and classrooms, Buckholtz is teaching Ojibwe language to two students.

“We are definitely in the early stages of getting our program up and running, but so far this year have taken some positive steps,” Buckholtz said. “Currently, I am working with five students on credit recovery. We are also lining up tutors and mentors to come in and work with our students for academic support. We are also working with the art department to incorporate traditional artwork into the classroom. So far, students have been interested and engaged in what we are offering

Sharing culture with community

The district brought in George Goggle for a staff workshop before school began to set the tone for cultural diversity.

“George talked about the treaties that developed the tribal systems in our country and particularly in Minnesota and shared the history of tribest moving into the area,” Parks said. “He also talked about cultures and customs.”

Plans are in the works to bring a “Treaties Matters” exhibit into the school later this year and invite community members to view it as well.

On Oct. 1, the Nevis district’s count of American Indian Students was 35 students in Pre-K through high school, an increase of nine students. That means even more funding dollars for the 2020-21 school year.

The American Indian Advisory Committee meets the first Monday of each month at 4 p.m. in the school media center.