On Wednesday, April 5, 2023 the Kiowa Tribe and The [Gáui[dòñ:gyà Kiowa Language Department were notified that the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) has recognized the program for training credentialed teachers to teach Kiowa as a World Language in the Oklahoma Public Schools for graduation credit. This was accomplished through the many years of work by the Kiowa Language and Culture Revitalization Program (KLCRP) staff, elders, teacher candidates, and the Kiowa Tribe leadership.
Kiowa as a World Language started over a decade ago when the OSDE changed from Foreign Language to World Language. The guidelines also changed on what could be taught for core credit as a world language. Other organizations that were not part of the Kiowa Tribe's organizational structure, requested the World Language Department at the Oklahoma State Department of Education to support their program. Those programs were told they did not have a current tribal resolution and tribal support for their credentialing process. From that point several language classes had been in existence across the state that shared and taught Kiowa language and culture. In 2012 a Kiowa language summit was held in Norman with the existing Kiowa language teachers across the state. The instructors met and exchanged ideas. A couple years later, one instructor, who was implementing Kiowa language immersion in the Kiowa Child Care Program, worked with the Kiowa Museum Director, Kiowa Elders, and Kiowa language instructors at the time, to write a pilot cooperative grant to bring all these groups across the state together and develop a Kiowa teacher credentialing process through the Kiowa Tribe. As a result, in the years 2016 to 2022 the Kiowa Tribe was funded by the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) through a federal grant with the Native Language Community Coordination initiative. The project title was known as the Kiowa Language and Culture Revitalization Program (KLCRP). One of three primary objectives of the funding was to develop and implement a Kiowa language teacher professional development and credentialing program to train teachers to teach the Kiowa Language from preschool through college.
The KLCRP launched a mentoring approach to train interested Kiowa language learners who wanted to learn to teach Kiowa language to others. This approach included weekly mentorship sessions where cohorts of Kiowa language teacher candidates were paired with a mentor to learn Kiowa. The mentors were all first-language Kiowa speakers and Kiowa Elders.
A process for the Kiowa Tribe to credential Kiowa language teachers was needed. To accomplish this the KLCRP wrote and presented a resolution to the Kiowa Tribe Legislative Branch. On March 14, 2020 the Legislative Branch of the Kiowa Tribe adopted and enacted the Kiowa Language Teacher Credentialing Board Establishment Act of 2020. On September 2, 2021 the Kiowa Tribe Legislatures confirmed five credentialing board members who are fluent in the Kiowa language. Four of the five board members are Kiowa tribal elders. The board members developed a credentialing process to assess and credential the teacher candidates on the Kiowa Language portion. In June 2021 the program developed a Professional Development checklist, an accompanying Teacher Candidate handbook, and the Kiowa Language Teacher Candidate Proficiency Portfolio, which completed the second portion of the credentialing process. On July 23, 2022, the KLCRP held a banquet for the first cohort of Kiowa language teacher candidates who were officially recognized as receiving a Kiowa language teaching credential by completing the process outlined through the Kiowa Language Credentialing Board.
The last step was to bring all this hard work together and submit to the OSDE for review to recognize the Kiowa credentialing teacher program for training teachers to teach Kiowa as a World Language for graduation credit in the Oklahoma Public Schools. The recognition by OSDE, in addition to playing a very pivotal role in the revival and perpetuation of the Kiowa Language, will help our Kiowa youth begin to feel included in the schools and to know how important the language is for the survival of our identity as Kiowa people.