By Tim Trudell
Flatwater Free Press 

Santee graduation rate increase, leaders credit culture curriculum


December 8, 2022

Tim Trudell | Flatwater Free Press

Culture • Redwing Thomas created the new program that daily teaches Santee language, history and culture to students at the iSanti Community Schools. Thomas was also briefly suspended from school after verbal altercations with another teacher, who allegedly said demeaning things about Santee students and the cultural program. Thomas was reinstated after a student walkout and community meeting.

Student pride – and the graduation rate – are on the upswing at the public school on the Santee Native Reservation. School leaders trace that success to a new effort to teach students the tribe’s culture.

For the first time, students are learning Santee Dakota history, language and customs – subjects long ago banned.

The new cultural program has boosted attendance and helped the iSanti Community School in Niobrara hit a 100% graduation rate two years running, school leaders say.

It hasn’t always gone smoothly. A recent teacher dust-up related to teaching Santee culture led to thr...

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