The Importance of the American Indian Education Program


For years Haley Dagle, the American Indian Equity Coordinator, has provided students at St. Francis with a safe space for learning about native cultures, and yet, many students don’t utilize this resource. 

The goal of the American Indian Education Parent Advisory Committee (AIEPAC) is to ensure that the educational and cultural needs of American Indian students are met and to educate students on Native American culture. In the American Indian Education Program, students can participate in various cultural activities, such as beading and sewing. Many of these are arts and crafts activities where students work with natural items such as birch bark and leather. The program is district-wide and is housed in rooms E208 and E210 at the high school.

“My favorite part (about being in the program) is getting closer to my culture and doing all the fun activities,” says Wyatt Kauppi, a sophomore in the program.

According to Haley Dagle, the program puts together community events where they have food, listen to music, and learn various indigenous games each year.

“I like them because there’s food and (because of) the games that are there, and it just brings everyone together,” says Rylee Loons, a senior in the program.

The program as a whole serves as a positive learning environment, most especially for students with a Native-American background.

“Native cultures are so rich and there’s so much that can be learned from the native cultures. Our students are really proud of their heritage, and I think by us having this program it’s a great way for our students to feel proud of who they are and accepted, while we can help educate others on the native community,” says Haley Dagle.

Although many of the students in the program have a Native-American background, students aren’t required to have one in order to participate in it.

“I would love for people to stop by, you don’t have to be a native student to stop by and see our resources and learn how to do some of the crafts we have,” said Dagle. “Last year I had a lot of people coming in during Saints time especially, and we would work on beading together, and it’s just a really fun way to learn about the culture and get to know each other a little bit better.”