From the Superintendent: Celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day



We have so much to learn from Indigenous Peoples’ Day, which we celebrate today, October 12. Two months ago the City of Saint Paul passed a resolution recognizing the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Among other reasons for their resolution, Mayor Coleman and the city council cited “the occupation of Dakota homelands for the building of our City, [acknowledging] indigenous nations have lived upon this land since time immemorial.”

Today is a day to celebrate the indigenous peoples of Minnesota and their contributions to Saint Paul’s vibrant mix of cultures and traditions. The SPPS Office of Indian Education and Multicultural Resource Center (MRC) have collaborated to encourage and support teachers in using this day as an opportunity to teach about the indigenous people of our area.

But this is not just a once-a-year opportunity. A notable resource for learning is the MRC’s Bdote project.

Dakota people have lived on this land for over 10,000 years, but most of us know very little about their rich history and culture. “Bdote” is a Dakota word meaning “a place where waters come together.” The Bdote of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers, now home to St. Paul and Minneapolis, is central to Dakota history and culture. Through Dakota Eyes: Bdote is a unit and field trip providing opportunities for SPPS students to experience familiar places through a Dakota lens, and develop a deeper understanding of multiple perspectives on local history.

Like the city’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day resolution, the Bdote project is both a celebration and a reframing of attitude. This is just one of many ideas that creative, thoughtful SPPS staff have developed to include multiple perspectives and cultures in our teaching. From all these efforts comes curriculum that speaks more directly to the students of our district. And when students feel and see themselves represented in what we teach, they engage more fully with their teachers and school in general.

As we celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day, let us also celebrate our own SPPS “Bdote”: a place where waters -- and cultures -- come together to create a premier education for all.

Your very proud superintendent,

Silva Signature



Valeria Silva