What We Teach
American Indian Magnet School follows the Saint Paul Public School District guidelines. For more information about the District curriculum, please visit, Office of Teaching and Learning
- The D/Lakota Virtues
- The Seven Ojibwe Teachings
- American Indian Studies
- Peace Makers
- Drum and Dance
Wówalitake - Fortitude: This is about sticking to something that is worthwhile. It relates to enduring until the goal is reached. Fortitude requires the willingness to suffer some, if necessary, to do what is right, good or healthful in the long haul. When people have this character trait, they do not allow the easy way out or an emphasis on convenience to overshadow these things.
Wóohitike - Courage/Bravery: Courage or bravery was defined by Lakota educator, Pat Locke, as the "strength of character which equips us to meet danger and trouble, to live our values, and to tell the truth in the face of ignorance." We cannot think of a better one. Courage is the quality of mind that enables us to risk what we value for a higher purpose.
Wóowotȟaŋla - Integrity: We use this word to describe what one has when one firmly adheres to and identifies with the virtues for the right reasons and when no one is looking. Integrity is acting on the awareness of spirituality. The origins of the word, "integer," are about "oneness." Integrity is a synonym for "good character," except that good character also, by our definition, calls for the following trait (peacefulness) as well.
Wówičakȟe - Honesty: An honest person, in our opinion, does what he or she says. Honesty is about being trustworthy. People with this character trait truly care about truth and here we want to repeat Parker Palmer's definition of truth as being a "conversation about things that matter conducted with passion and discipline." The passion is about sincerity and the discipline relates to the five inner skills in the conceptual model. We see honesty as a subcategory of integrity.
Wóuŋšiič’iye - Humility: We regard humility as the essential ingredient for learning with all of our senses. We can only listen and pay true attention to something when we let go of our preconceptions. We cannot feel any arrogance over nature and its creatures. We cannot assume we already know the answers or that we are better or higher than another. To us, humility is not about humiliation, self-abasement, penitence for sin or being unworthy in the sight of God, according to our interpretation. Humility, as we are defining it, is a freedom from pride and arrogance that recognizes equity and equality. It is manifested by a great appreciation for the many gifts life and God have to offer us.
Wówačhaŋtognake - Generosity: Generosity is one of the most obvious virtues among American Indians. Lakota people actually measured their worth by how much they gave away. Those unadulterated too much by western culture's emphasis on material wealth still do. Generosity is about giving and/or sharing our time, our wealth, our ideas or our possessions in behalf of others. One way to think of it is as the opposite of greed or selfishness. A person with this trait has a good balance between taking care of self and taking care of others.
Taken from: http://www.teachingvirtues.net/virtues.html
The eagle represents LOVE because of its unique relationship with the Creator. Only the eagle has the ability and strength to fly higher than any other animal, thereby placing it closest to the Creator than all others.
Eagles are loving parents and teachers to their offspring, protecting and guiding them.
The buffalo represents RESPECT because for as long as we have been here, we have sustained our lives through the buffalo, in terms of clothing, food, shelter, medicine and art.
Native people depended on the buffalo for survival and used every part of the animal: hides for tipis and clothing, bones for tools and toys, meat for food, tendons and muscles for sinew, brains for hide tanning and skull for medicinal and ceremonial purposes.
The bear represents COURAGE because of its strength and natural ability to overcome challenges. A mother bear will stand against a much larger, stronger male bear or other animals to protect her cubs.
The bear shows us how to live in a balanced life where there is time for playfulness and time to be assertive and courageous.
The giant represents HONESTY because it is closer to the Creator than humans. It is believved the giant used to walk among humans to remind us of the Creator's wish for us to remain true to our natural form.
The beaver represents WISDOM because it utilizes its gifts in ways that promote wellness for itself and its family.
The Creator gave the beaver large teeth and the knowledge to know how to build. This has enabled the beaver to positively impact its enviroment and create a more sustainable world.
The wolf represents HUMILITY because of its giving nature and devotion to protecting and working for the good of the wolf family. The wolf places the welfare of the pack above its own.
Wolves mate for life and are generous and loving parents, setting an example of what our communites and family systems should be.
The turtle represents TRUTH because it is one of the oldest animals on our planet and it is said to have witnessed the laws of creation.
The turtle walks close to Mother Earth. The turtle is grounded, careful and attentive to details - important qualities for those who speak the truth.
The American Indian Studies (AIS) Program is available for grades 6-8 at the American Indian Magnet School, and grades 9-12 at Harding High School. AIS provides the opportunity for ALL students, of any and all cultures, to learn American Indian history, literature, art, and language from a Native perspective. Both Ojibwe and Lakota languages are offered. All AIS classes meet district and state content standards, and have been developed as rigorous, yet culturally competent courses.
Through collaboration with the Saint Paul Indian Education Program, we offer additional support for American Indian students, including attendance and grade monitoring, college and career exploration, and social services.
In addition to academic classes, AIS provides cultural learning opportunities for students. In recent years AIS students have attended original play productions by New Native Theater, hosted Winter Storytelling Events, competed in the State and Regional Ojibwe Quiz Bowl Competitions and Drum & Dance Competitions, and volunteered at community powwows and events. With ample leadership opportunities, students are able to build meaningful portfolios for their college and career applications
If you have any questions, please contact Jason Bresette, AIS Coordinator: email@example.com
Lisa Yankton (Dakota Teacher for Middle School) firstname.lastname@example.org
Cynthia Bergloff (Ojibwe Teacher for Middle School) email@example.com
- Foundational Reading Skills (UFLI for Grades K-2)
- Differentiated Small Group Reading Instruction
- Language Comprehension Instruction
- Writing Instruction
At American Indian Magnet School, all students learn Ojibwe or D/Lakota language from our Culture Specialists. Staff members work to infuse these languages throughout the school day; in lessons, conversations and the school environment. We are working toward Indigenous language recovery and preservation.
Reading Intervention Specialists and a full-time Library/Media Specialist work with teachers and students to strengthen all areas of literacy instruction.
English Language Instructors provide language and vocabulary support to all students whose first language or home language is other than English.
Reading Intervention Specialists (WINN and SIPPS) provide data-based small-group interventions for students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
Book of the Month
Book of the Month is a schoolwide literacy program, begun in 2001. All AIMS students read the same book during the month. This program is aimed at getting everyone excited about reading culturally responsive Indigenous-authored books. Here are the 2023-24 Book of the Month selections:
by Jessie Taken Alive-Recountre
Year Published: 2020
There is a belief that a Native American tribe, the Lakota believe in. That is, there is one Creator and that everything that is living in the Universe is our relative. This children's book reminds children of the knowledge that we are all born with. Meant for primary grade children, this is a message that is universal to all ages.
by Kevin Locke
Year Published: 2016
Long ago, when a great flood cleansed the land of unhappiness, the Grandfather sent Wanjblí the eagle to save one virtuous member of the human race and teach her how to live a good life. The eagle is a powerful symbol of courage, wisdom, and strength. In Kevin’s book he shares an inspiring vision of unity and hope for a new generation teaching children to recognize the eagle in themselves and others and always to soar above the darkness into the light.
by Ria Thundercloud
Year Published: 2022
At four years old, Ria Thundercloud was brought into the powwow circle, ready to dance in the special jingle dress her mother made for her. As she grew up, she danced with her brothers all over Indian country. Then Ria learned more styles--tap, jazz, ballet--but still loved the expressiveness of Indigenous dance. And despite feeling different as one of the only Native American kids in her school, she always knew she could turn to dance to cheer herself up.
Follow along as Ria shares her dance journey--from dreaming of her future to performing as a professional--accompanied by striking illustrations that depict it while bringing her graceful movements to life.
by Alfreda Beartrack-Algeo
Year Published: 2022
When seven Lakota sisters venture deep into the forest to gather chokecherries, they are surprised and chased by a giant bear. As they huddle together on a rock ledge and pray for help, the earth rises up, taking them out of reach of the bear. A great eagle rescues the Seven Sisters by taking them to the Star Nation, where they become the Pleiades star formation we see in the night sky.
by Lauren Goodluck and Jonathan Nelson
Year Published: 2022
In this Native American story, Kara and Amanda are best-friend cousins. Then Kara leaves the city to move back to the Rez. Will their friendship stay the same?
Kara and Amanda hate not being together. Then it's time for the family reunion on the Rez. Each girl worries that the other hasn't missed her. But once they reconnect, they realize that they are still forever cousins. This story highlights the ongoing impact of the 1950s Indian Relocation Act on Native families, even today.
This tender story about navigating change reminds readers that the power of friendship and family can bridge any distance.
by Darcy Whitecrow and Heather O'Connor
Year Published: 2022
“Elders say they were always here. The horses were small, but strong.”
As they await the birth of a new foal, a man teaches his grandchild about the Ojibwe Horses that used to roam the forests of northwestern Ontario. The horses once ran wild and free, but when Grandfather was a boy, they almost disappeared. Now he is the caretaker of his own small herd, keeping the breed alive for future generations and teaching his grandchild about the loving bond between human and animals.
by Diane Wilson and 3 othersYear Published: 2022
In this unique collaboration, four authors lyrically explore where they each come from―literally and metaphorically―as well as what unites all of us as humans.
Richly layered illustrations connect past and present, making for an accessible and visually striking look at history, family, and identity.
We come from stardust / our bodies made of ancient elements. / We come from single cells / evolving over billions of years. / We come from place, language, and spirit. / And each of us comes from story.
by Leona Price
Year Published: 2022
Rooted in Indigenous teachings, this stunning picture book encourages readers of all ages to consider the ways in which they live in connection to the world around them and to think deeply about their behaviors.
Addressing environmental issues, animal welfare, self-esteem and self-respect, and the importance of community, the authors deliver a poignant and universal message in an accessible way: Be a good ancestor to the world around you. Thought-provoking stanzas offer a call to action for each one of us to consider how we affect future generations. Every decision we make ripples out, and we can affect the world around us by thinking deeply about those decisions.
by Traci Sorell
Year Published: 2022
In this uplifting, contemporary Native American story, River is recovering from illness and can't dance at the powwow this year. Will she ever dance again?
River wants so badly to dance at powwow day as she does every year. In this uplifting and contemporary picture book perfect for beginning readers, follow River's journey from feeling isolated after an illness to learning the healing power of community.
A middle school orientation and transition program that tries to welcome all students and makes them feel comfortable throughout their school experience. Built on the belief that students can help students succeed, the program trains mentors from our 8th grade class to be Leaders. As positive role models, the Peace Maker Leaders are mentors and student leaders who guide the other students to discover what it takes to be successful during the transition to middle school and help facilitate 6th/7th grade success.
More and more studies show that if students have a positive experience their first year in middle school, their chances for success increase dramatically. Peace Makers provides the structure for middle school students to receive support and guidance from 8th graders who have been through the challenges that middle school poses and understand that the transition to a larger school can sometimes be overwhelming.
Peace Makers also acts as an anti-bullying program for our school by providing it with a cadre of student leaders who look for bullying behavior and help stop it. Peace Makers gives older students permission to be aware of and report any negative behavior they see, creating a safer school for everybody.
Peace Makers is a yearlong transition program with four components that contribute to its success:
- Middle School Orientation - Leaders and other students start building the mentor relationship and receive information about how to be successful in middle school
- Academic Follow Ups - Leaders support others' academic success and character development through classroom visits
- Social Follow Ups - Leaders and other students connect outside the classroom at social events to increase student engagement and promote positive school climate
- Leader Initiated Contacts - Leaders connect with younger students on a more individual basis
The (Advancement Via Individual Determination) is designed to increase school-wide learning and performance. The mission of AVID is to ensure that all students, and most especially the least served students in the middle capable of completing a college path
- will succeed in a rigorous curriculum,
- will enter mainstream activities of the school,
- will increase their enrollment in 4-year colleges, and
- will become educated and responsible participants and leaders in a democratic society.
- Voluntary participation by students and staff
- AVID elective class availability within the regular academic day
- Student enrollment in a rigorous, college-prep course of study
- Bases of instruction include WICOR Strategies (Writing, Inquiry, Collaboration, Organization, Reading)
- Trained tutors in the AVID classroom
- Data-intensive program monitoring
- Active interdisciplinary site team.
AVID program essentials include:
A sample week in the AVID elective class includes two days of tutorials, two days of AVID curriculum, and Friday as activity day and for binder evaluation. The AVID curriculum includes a writing curriculum, college and career information, and strategies for success. Tutorials include collaborative study groups, writing groups, and Socratic seminars. Cornell note taking is stressed in all facets of the program.
AVID at American Indian Magnet
We have an AVID elective at 7th and 8th grade, plus an Indigenous AVID. The essentials of AVID are taught to all students in most middle school classes. The AVID Elective Teachers at AIMS are:
Mr. Besette - AVID Coordinator, Elective Teacher and Indigenous AVID firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Kurtti - 8th Grade AVID Elective email@example.com
7th grades are saying...
AVID has made me think about college and to have a future
AVID is helping me keep up on my grades. And good grades will get me into a good college.
AVID got me thinking about what college I want to go to.
AVID taught me how to take Cornell Notes and it helped me with me Ojibwe class.
AVID helps me understand what I don’t understand. Cornell Notes helps me remember stuff.
AVID is helping me get ready for college by going on college field trips. And it helps me get good grades.
AVID helps me with organization.
AVID is helping me keep my grades up.
AVID helps me stay neat and organized.
AVID helps me understand problems I have in my classes.
AVID has helped me through Tutorial Request Forms (TRFs). Since then, I have gotten better grades.
AVID has made me less shy and now I am doing much better in Lakota because I speak up more in class.
AVID has helped me learn how to study in classes like Ojibwe.
AVID encourages me to keep my grades up!
Cornell Notes has helped me get organized in math.
Along with reading, writing and math, students at AIMS are provided with many opportunities for enrichment. We offer Ojibwe Scholars, Drum and Dance, Language Bowl Competitions, and Flipside (after-school) enrichment programs.
For more information, please contact:
Michelle Fairbanks 744-6156 (Ojibwe Specialist)
Thomas Draskovic 744-6155 (Lakota Specialist)
Elementary: Group A
- Ms. Kia
- T. Yang
- Canto (ASD)
- Oct. 6
- Nov. 3
- Dec. 1
- Dec. 15
- Jan. 19
- Feb. 9
- Feb. 23
- Mar. 15
- Apr. 5
- Apr. 26
- May 10
- May 24
Elementary: Group B
- Ms. Michelle
- K. Yang
- Westrum (ASD)
- Oct. 13
- Nov. 17
- Dec. 8
- Jan. 12
- Feb. 2
- Feb. 16
- Mar. 1
- Mar. 22
- Apr. 19
- May 3
- May 17
- May 31
Middle: Group A
- Oct. 6 A
- Nov. 3 A
- Dec. 1 A
- Dec. 15 A
- Jan. 19 A
- Feb. 9 A
- Feb. 23 B
- Mar. 15 A
- Apr. 5 A
- Apr. 26 A
- May 10 A
- May 24 A
Middle: Group A
- Oct. 13 B
- Nov. 17 A
- Dec. 8 B
- Jan. 12 A
- Feb. 2 B
- Feb. 16 B
- Mar. 1 A
- Mar. 22 B
- Apr. 19 B
- May 3 B
- May 17 B
- May 31 A