News Release

University of Minnesota and Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community collaborate to develop free Indigenous Education for All online course

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The University of Minnesota's College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) today announced it has been awarded a $1,155,000 grant from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) to develop and offer an Indigenous Education for All online course free to the public. 

The grant grew from the SMSC’s Understand Native Minnesota campaign to improve the Native American narrative in the state. When SMSC reached out to CEHD to support its efforts, the College was grateful and quick to be of service. CEHD’s work on this project aligns with the recommendations of the 2023 Towards Recognition and University-Tribal Healing (TRUTH) report, which advised steps for the University of Minnesota community to be in better relations with Indigenous peoples. 

“We are honored to partner with Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community to increase Minnesota’s understanding of Native life and practices across the region,” said CEHD Dean Michael Rodriguez. “This project is supported by CEHD’s mission to contribute to a just and sustainable future through engagement with local and global communities to enhance human learning and development across the lifespan.”

This project was inspired by the success of the University of Alberta’s highly regarded Indigenous Canada course. This new course aims to increase awareness and knowledge of Tribal Nations in Minnesota, their history and traditions, as well as contemporary Tribal life and governance. The primary target audiences are K-12 educators, school administrators, high school students, and student families. 

“Our tribe’s goal is to improve the narrative taught in classrooms about Native peoples, which is too often incomplete or inaccurate,” said SMSC Chairman Cole Miller. “We are glad to provide this grant to the University of Minnesota to develop this online course to offer all Minnesotans – and students especially – a reliable, accurate introduction to the history, cultures and modern experiences of Native Americans here in Minnesota.”

Cassie Scharber, assistant dean of online and professional education and associate professor of learning technologies, and George Veletsianos, professor of learning technologies, are leading the development of the online course. They will be guided and supported by a community advisory council and a curriculum committee that consists of Indigenous education experts and leaders, knowledge keepers and content experts, curriculum designers, learning technologists, and others. 

The free online course is expected to launch by mid-2025.

About the College of Education and Human Development
The University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) strives to teach, advance research, and engage with communities to increase opportunities for all individuals. As the fourth largest college on the Twin Cities campus, CEHD research and specialties focus on a range of challenges, including: education equity, teaching and learning innovations, children’s mental health and development, family resilience, and healthy aging. Learn more at

About Learning Technologies 
The Learning Technologies program at CEHD offers undergraduate and graduate programs that prepare a wide range of professionals and educators to advance the use of technology for learning through practice, design, and research. Bringing together many different disciplines including online learning, learning analytics, technology integration, and learning design, graduates go on to work in K-12, higher education, and industry settings. Learn more at

About the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) is a federally recognized, sovereign Dakota tribal government located southwest of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Following a Dakota tradition of generosity, the SMSC is one of the top philanthropists in Minnesota and is the largest contributor to other tribal governments and causes across the country. It is a strong community partner and a leader in protecting and restoring natural resources. The SMSC’s government, Gaming Enterprise, and various other enterprises are collectively the largest employer in Scott County and attract millions of visitors to the region.

About Understand Native Minnesota 
Understand Native Minnesota was a philanthropic campaign conducted from October 2019-January 2024 by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) to improve the Native American narrative in Minnesota’s K-12 public schools. The SMSC committed $5 million for grantmaking to support research, teaching resources, professional development and education programming. For more information, visit

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University Public Relations