Since Time Immemorial - page 6

You’ve learned the history of
tribal sovereignty and fishing
rights. Did you know even in the
last few decades, major changes
have taken place which contribute
to the public’s and Washington
state’s public school students’
understanding of Washington
tribes? As you follow these
changes, think about how your
understanding of native peoples
has been impacted by changes in
the law.
There are 29 federally recognized
tribes (and some tribes that are
currently unrecognized by the
federal government), each with
its own government, citizens, laws
and traditions. Some tribes are
comprised of distinct families,
communities, and tribal groups.
On Aug. 4, 1989 federally
recognized tribes within
Washington state and the
governor of Washington state
gathered to affirm, establish,
and improve government-to-
government relations between
the tribes and the state. The new
relationship was outlined in a
document called the Centennial
Accord. This document provided
a framework for government-to-
government relationships and
an implementation procedure to
assure its execution. The Accord
was signed by attending tribes
and the governor. The year also
marked the Washington state
centennial and Paddle to Seattle
that began the resurgence of the
tribal canoe journeys.
Ten years later, on Nov. 1, 2 and
3, 1999, a majority of leaders
from Washington state’s federally-
recognized tribes gathered again
with the State of Washington
in Leavenworth, Washington
to create the Millennium
Agreement. The Millennium
Agreement spelled out tangible
goals whereas the Centennial
Accord mainly outlined a way to
work together and have mutual
respect. Those gathered desired
to strengthen relationships and
cooperation on issues of mutual
concern between the signatory
tribes and the state. One of the
most significant effects of the
Millennium Agreement was the
necessity of educating youth
about Washington tribes.
A major commitment established
between the tribes and the state
in the 1999 Millennial Agreement
read: “Educating the citizens of
our state, particularly the youth
who are our future leaders, about
tribal history, culture, treaty
rights, contemporary tribal and
state government institutions and
relations and the contribution
of Indian Nations to the State of
Washington to move us forward
on the Centennial Accord’s
promise that, ‘The parties
recognize that implementation
of this Accord will require a
comprehensive educational effort
to promote understanding of
the government-to-government
relationship within their own
governmental organizations
and with the public.’”
Six years later House Bill 1495 was
established to build government-
to-government relationships
between school boards and tribal
councils to teach about tribal
history. The original Bill read
“Requiring that Washington’s
tribal history be taught in the
common schools.”
During this same time the
legislators recognized that the
education commitment of the
1999 Millennial Agreement had
not been achieved in the six
years since its creation. They
found that most schools and
districts in Washington were not
educating students about tribal
history, culture, or treaty rights.
Some legislators believed that
the lack of accurate and complete
curricula might contribute to
the achievement gap between
American Indian/Native American/
Alaskan Native students and non-
native students. Some legislators
also believed that the Bill could
not pass into law with the word
“required” and suggested
the word to be changed to
On April 28, 2005, House Bill
1495 with the new language
was signed into law by then-
Governor Christine Gregoire.
The new law established the
setting to create a curriculum
about Washington’s tribal history,
culture and government. HB1495
brought about a memorandum
of agreement between the Tribal
Leaders Congress on Education
(TLC), the Washington State
School Directors Association
(WSSDA), and the Office of
Superintendent of Public
Instruction (OSPI). These three
groups worked together to create
the Since Time Immemorial:
Tribal Sovereignty Curriculum.
The curriculum strives to provide
a more balanced history of the
State of Washington and focuses
on Since Time Immemorial: Tribal
Sovereignty Curriculum as a free,
state-provided and tribal-vetted
resource for teachers.
In 2015, 10 years since the passing
of HB 1495, legislators revisited
the implementation of tribal
history being taught in the public
school system. With only two
school districts formally adopting
the Since Time Immemorial: Tribal
Sovereignty Curriculum and a low
percentage of teachers utilizing
the teaching tool, legislators
decided to return the language
of the original bill. The new bill
introduced by Sen. Steve Litzow
on Jan. 21, 2015
and signed into law by Governor
Jay Inslee on May 8, 2015 read:
“Requiring Washington’s tribal
history, culture, and government
to be taught in the common
This new bill ushers in a new
era of understanding the
American Indian/Native American
communities in Washington
state. Under the new law, school
districts will seek to build stronger
relations with federally recognized
tribes. The law also focuses on the
Since Time Immemorial: Tribal
Sovereignty Curriculum, available
For further resources
IndianEd/ and contact
Michael Vendiola and
Joan Banker, Office
of Native Education/
OSPI, (360) 725-6160.
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