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Tribal leader concerned HB 1775 affecting how native history is taught in classroom


A local tribal leader is concerned that House Bill 1775 is affecting how Native American history is being taught to Oklahoma students after hearing that an educator has decided not to teach from the "The Killers of the Flower Moon."

According to the Oklahoman, a Dewey Public Schools teacher won't be educating students on the book due to fears of losing their teaching license.

While the district has not officially banned the book, the school's superintendent, Vince Vincent, believes the teacher, like many others, is worried of violating HB 1775.

"It probably sheds light a little bit on the concerns that individual teachers have in regards to House Bill 1775, and what may or may not create a situation where either the school receives negative attention and gets some sort of accreditation deficiency, or whether the teachers themselves suffer consequences in terms of teacher certification," said Superintendent Vincent.

However, former Osage Nation Principal Chief Jim Gray said there's no way for people to appreciate how far the tribe has come without learning about their dark past.

"We don't study history to feel good about it," Gray said. "History is there for us to understand the mistakes of the past so we cannot repeat them."

Gray said the atrocities Osage tribal members faced were a direct result of federal policy that allowed great theft, the loss of many lives, and cultural damage that Gray says will take generations to overcome.

As one of the states with the highest native population, Gray said the travesties his tribe has faced are not unique.

"Other tribes throughout the state have their own 'Reign of Terror' story, where they have experienced a great loss like this," Gray explained. "We need to understand that to understand how we are today, and why it's important that tribes remain an essential part of the fabric of Oklahoma."

Tribal nations still have an enormous story to tell, but Gray said that won't be possible until state legislation allows for history to be taught in Oklahoma classrooms.

Before making her way to Public Radio Tulsa, KWGS News Director Cassidy Mudd worked as an assignment editor and digital producer at a local news station. Her work has appeared on ABC, CBS, and NBC affiliates across the country.