Honoring Indigenous People’s Day 2020

I’m an SCSU graduate student, a Graduate Assistant, and the English Department blog and social media manager. I am also a 5th and 6th grade English and Social teacher at a local elementary school. 

In honor of Indigenous People’s Day this year (October 12), I took my 5th and 6th graders on a field trip to listen to my dear old 78-year-old friend, Julius, talk about his time doing mission work on the Red Lake Reservation where he spent 20+ years living and working alongside the Indigenous People living on the reservation. 

My students were absolutely fascinated learning about Indigenous Peoples from someone who’s lived and experienced their way of life. It was so much better to hear him speak than to have my students read more out of a textbook. They thoroughly enjoyed learning about the Indigenous Peoples’ way of life! Instead of me sharing my experience, I’d like to share their experiences (in the red text) (and insert clarifications when necessary).

I like that he explained what he did. My favorite artifact was the dream catcher. My favorite part was when he said they came to take him home. The most interesting part was when he talked about the artifacts and how they were made with love. I did not dislike anything.


This student talked about the time when “they came to take him home.” Julius told a story about how years after his time on the Red Lake Reservation, his Indigenous friends invited themselves over to his house one day. When they arrived, they said, “Julius, we’re here to take you home.” They surrounded him and said they weren’t leaving his home without him. Obviously, they were only slightly serious as they knew he had other obligations in his life at that time and he couldn’t go back. The story demonstrated how much the people on the Reservation loved and respected him!

This student also talked about some of the Indigenous artifacts he had on display. He talked about how everything they create is made with love. He also showed many of the gifts these people had gifted him over the years. Everything was absolutely beautiful! 



What I thought was it was very cool. It was very fun to see the paintings he showed to us. The turtle shell was cool. I liked it because there were so many details on the shell. I liked to see the process to see what they did to get it to look that cool. I liked the canoe. It was so cool because you could see all of the details on the canoe. My favorite thing there was the painting that he got from a kid that he drove a bus for. It was so cool to see what he did when he was younger. It was a cool experience.

Part of his mission work was to drive a school bus route for their local school (as you can see in one of the later pictures; he’s wearing his bus driver jacket!). He told many stories about the kindness the students showed him. Many of the students painted or drew him pictures as gifts. Since they didn’t have much, they would give handmade items as gifts.

I think it was cool for the stuff on the table, and I think it was cool that he could speak their language. My favorite thing about it is how good they are at art. My favorite artifact was the pictures. He should put more stuff on the table.


One point Julius stressed was the importance of learning a second language. He can speak fluent Ojibwe, but he suggested my students learn Spanish. 

At one point, Julius recited the “Our Father” prayer in Ojibwe! It was really quite amazing! The written version of the “Our Father” is pictured here.


I loved it. It was so interesting. It was so cool to listen to all he had to say. I didn’t dislike anything. It was so awesome. The most interesting thing was all the pictures and artifacts. My favorite part was listening to everything. My favorite artifact was the birch bark wood canoes. 


Everything was really cool and the paintings were amazing. The language was cool too. And the boats made out of bark and stuff were really cool. The necklaces were cool too. Everything was really cool. But my favorite thing was the turtle shell. It was REALLY cool.





I’ve always honored Indigenous People in my classroom, but this year was way more impactful to my students. 

We’re curious to know:

How do you honor Indigenous People? 

What was your favorite artifact that Julius showed the children? (I know, the pictures aren’t amazing and don’t show everything.)

Webster during COVID-19

Ok friends. Let’s address the elephant in the room. And by “elephant,” I mean “COVID-19.”

Everyone knows about it. Everyone’s talking about it. But, I haven’t seen anyone talk about how different campus looks right now.

I walked around Webster Hall, our home, on Tuesday before teaching my class. It was about 1:30 PM.

Before I drop the photos I took, I want you to remember what Webster was like back before COVID. I remember walking through the halls, hearing a multitude of voices and seeing students studying in the comfy chairs on every floor. I remember the English department (and other departments as well) office doors open, the office full of smiling faces ready to greet anyone who walked in! I remember seeing full classrooms of students learning. I remember an alive and active building.

I’ll admit. I was very saddened by my walk through Webster. I felt like I was alone. I didn’t get to greet anyone. No smiles. No “How are you?” No interaction. Just me and my thoughts.





Walking around Webster was a sad experience. When I finished my walk, I went to my classroom to get set up for class. Some students come in-person and the rest join on Zoom. It’s far less than an ideal situation, but at least they get a little bit of in-person instruction. When I’ve asked which method the students prefer, the say in-person. I had five students in my classroom on Tuesday. The rest were on Zoom.

Drop us a comment to let us know which method you prefer!

I hope eventually we can go back to fully in-person classes, but until then, we’re doing the best we can and I’m confident all the professors teaching here are continuing to provide high quality instruction!

Take care and be safe!


New faculty directions for St. Cloud’s teaching license program

Since 2018, the English Department’s new English Education professor, Dr. Michael Dando, has been mobilizing teaching license students with his culturally relevant pedagogy–recently recognized with one of this year’s Miller Scholar Awards, among St. Cloud State’s highest honors. Michael’s research explores how students engage youth culture and critical literacy development toward democratic and civic engagement. In particular, he studies how students and teachers use elements of hip-hop culture to interpret and cultivate central representations of self, community, and pro-social world views, and how teachers and students might enhance these learning environments to provide rich learning experiences that students will see as highly connected to formal tools and ideas. This work involves attending closely to the design of representations and tools within these academic spaces as well as the artifacts (both tangible and intangible) constructed by students.

Dr. Dando serves on the Executive Planning Committee for The Bias Inside Us Project at SCSU in partnership with the Smithsonian.

The Smithsonian Institution, committed to leading and encouraging civil dialogue on important issues facing our nation and the world, is preparing a community engagement project called The Bias Inside Us. Our goal is to help visitors understand and counter their implicit biases and build capacity in communities to convene dialogue that will increase empathy and create more inclusive schools, communities, and workplaces.

He also partners with Teachers College Columbia on the Remixing Wakanda Project.

In collaboration with professors Michael DandoJohn Jennings, and Dr. Nathan Holbert, the Re-mixing Wakanda project examines how youth from communities historically underrepresented and overlooked in the classroom, arts, and sciences might take this movement to create new representations of and for themselves through Afrofuturism, critical making, and design practices. This project aims to examine how young people communicate and articulate who they see themselves to be and why this matters, through an epistemological framework that questions and reimagines the present and past–seeing them as collections of objects, representations, and meanings that can be modified, mixed, and repurposed to imagine future societies and technologies that center people of color. It is through this interdisciplinary and sociocultural lens we re-imagine both STEAM and makerspaces that disrupt dominant notions of what can and should occur as well as dominant understandings of who belongs and can excel in these fields.

Recent article publications

  • Dando, M. (2017). We got next: Hip-hop pedagogy and the next generation of democratic education. Kappa Delta Pi Record53(1), 28-33.
  • Dando, M. B., Holbert, N., & Correa, I. (2019). Remixing Wakanda: Envisioning Critical Afrofuturist Design Pedagogies. In Proceedings of FabLearn 2019(pp. 156-159).
  • Holbert, N., Dando, M., & Correa, I. (2020). Afrofuturism as critical constructionist design: building futures from the past and present. Learning, Media and Technology, 1-17.
  • Holbert, N., Yoon, H., Brownell, C., Moffett, C., Dando, M., Correa, I., & Vasudevan, L. (2020). The Aesthetics of (Un) Charted Play: Negotiating Nostalgia and Digital Demons in an Era of “Post-Truth” Educational Research.

Interested in listening to Professor Dando?

Check out his podcast here!

If you are interested in hearing Professor Dando’s recent interview regarding his teaching on and research into popular culture and education, please click here.