We are excited to welcome Oceti Sakowin Community Academy!


As we continue to expand our work we are really thrilled to announce that Better Way is now funding Oceti Sakowin.

Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires) refers to the Sioux Tribes originating across Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota lands. Oceti Sakowin Community Academy provides students with access to a culturally relevant, academically rigorous educational setting to accelerate investment in their learning, motivation, and positive outcomes later in life. The academy is a hub for students and families to access Lakota language, culture, and traditional practices within an urban setting to promote generational healing.

The school is a direct response to state systems failing Indigenous students. It launched after founders collaborated with NDN Collective on the “Education Equity Campaign” to address system shortcomings, which surfaced a desire for a school built on the Oceti Sakowin language, culture, and life ways. The Native American Community Academy and its NISN model inspired founders; they wanted to replicate their success. Founders opened Oceti in 2021 as part of the Better Way-supported NISN cohort.

Oceti’s work is grounded in four core Lakota values: 1) Woksape (wisdom, rigorous academics); 2) Wowacintanka (fortitude, student-centered learning); 3) Woohitika (bravery, empowering and recognizing parents and community as the first sovereign educators); and 4) Wocantognake (generosity, connectedness to the land and community).

Leveraging strong partnerships and network supports that range from Naca-Inspired Schools Network to Maȟpíya Lύta-Red Cloud Indian School and experienced education leadership, Oceti’s goal: Establish a solid, replicable model for implementing a community-based school for Indigenous students. In this first year of BWF funding, Oceti will build new, culturally relevant processes to recruit, train, and retain staff and to increase its capacity to deliver quality Lakota immersion instruction. The project includes:

· Developing a new model for teacher recruitment—one that serves Oceti’s needs, but also is replicable for other IECD programs—and that centers on drawing quality candidates to the profession.

· Deepening & strengthening teacher training to deliver instruction in the Lakota language.

· Working toward strong retention in teachers as leaders—focusing on developing teacher as contributors to strategic direction and implementation, including, for example, professional development and coaching opportunities as well as collaboration on increasing the number of Lakota language and culture resources and materials.

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