Bemidji State University will grant $92,000 for a “Decolonizing Educators” program. The university announced its decision to fund these scholarships in a press release last week.
The funds come from a Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) initiative called “Minnesota Indian Teaching Training Program” (MITTP). The state program administers scholarships to enrolled members of federally-recognized tribes, or first- or second-degree descendants. MITTP is currently available through six universities and colleges.
Educational decolonization is a growing trend to restructure all educational systems and curriculum by reprioritizing the importance of minorities in all academic sectors. Its proponents say the Western heritage informing and influencing this country is “male, pale, and stale.” To them, it’s the hallmark of White supremacy.
Decolonizing efforts within education is not unique to this university. Higher education across the country has varying levels of commitment to “decolonize education.” The process manifests itself in mandatory courses dedicated social justice, antiracism, and gender.
According to the university’s press release, the MITTP funding also supports academia in “American Indian language and culture, counseling or mental health services, administration, school healthcare, and social work.”
Chrissy Koch, Bemidji’s executive director of the American Indian Resources Center, awarded the “Decolonizing Educators” slogan for this year’s MITTP.
During an earlier campus forum, Koch stated that education after the colonization of American Indians continues to be traumatic.
“When we talk about decolonizing educators we are trying to express that we want to bring indigenous prospectives [sic] and traditions into the education realm because they were taken from us in that setting historically.”
The Minnesota Sun asked Koch about the inspiration behind the program and their ideal vision of a fully decolonized education. The director did not offer a response by press time.
This year, eight students will receive “Decolonizing Educators” scholarship recipients. Each student will be awarded $1500 for tuition, $400 for books, and $3000 as a living stipend.
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