Durango Schools add Native American Games to Curriculum

September 21, 2023

Durango School District 9-R teachers achieved their certification for teaching Native American Games over the summer, thanks to a three-day training program through the Montana Office of Instruction. The traditional Native American games offer students of all grade levels various challenges and benefits, mental and physical. Title VI Program Manager Orlando Griego believes the addition will bring a sense of belonging to Native American students in the district. By Connor Shreve. This story is sponsored by Kroegers Ace Hardware and The Payroll Department

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The physical education curriculum throughout Durango 9-R School District is getting a bit more traditional. Students from kindergarten through 12th grade are learning traditional Native American games for the first time. You're watching the Local News Network, brought to you by Kroegers Ace Hardware and The Payroll Department. I'm Connor Shreve. Title VI Program Manager, Orlando Griego, says the addition of the games is the result of the school district embracing its ethos of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, and a desire to better serve the Native American and Indigenous population within the Durango 9-R School District. To learn the games, teachers took part in a three-day training session.

I mean, everyone's smiling, everyone's having fun, we're really starting to brainstorm of how we can really bring this to our schools, how we can bring it to the community. It's really refreshing, 'cause everyone's really eager to learn. So that's the nicest piece.

Griego says there is enough variation in the games to serve most students from kindergarten through high school.

You know, there's games that are very methodical, there are games that are very active. You know, you really have to think, there's games to where later on throughout the week, we're really going to, you know, we may have to challenge ourselves with some running, but outside of that, it's a little bit of everything.

As for his preference.

I don't know. The plum game was pretty fun, just 'cause it's competitive, going back and forth with one another, you know, there's a lot of hand-eye coordination. The rock game was really fun with a partner. They've all been fun. I don't know, it's hard to say right now.

The games come from a variety of tribes, including Chippewa, Blackfeet, and Lakota Sioux among others. They focus on skills like intuition, problem solving, and various physical abilities. The values of those cultures are infused into the games, which teach honor, respect, and responsibility. Griego is appreciative the district is incorporating Native American culture into its syllabus.

I mean, I think this is, again, this is really going to bring that sense of belonging, really share tradition, value, belief, you know, and let them be ambassadors of these games as well, really provide some type of leadership, so they can teach these games if that's what they choose. But we'll also be bringing these to our events as well.

The rollout will vary depending on grade level, individual programs, and teachers. The International Traditional Games Society believes the new addition to the school district's physical education program could help to address students' health from a holistic standpoint, pairing education with spiritual, mental, and physical survival skills of the past. You can learn more about this and other stories at durangolocal.news. Thank you for watching this edition of the Local News Network. I'm Connor Shreve.


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