In the early 1970’s, Native American youth were experiencing discrimination in the Twin Cities public schools that created turmoil and high drop out rates. This lead to the creation of an alternative accredited educational place named The Red School House. KFAI’s Dixie Treichel filed this report. Listen below.
“Being at Red School House, you didn’t have anyone telling you you couldn’t be who you are,” said Dorene Day, a former Red School House student. “We were encouraged to delve into every aspect of our life as a Native person.”
The Red School House began in February of 1972. The idea was hatched by concerned parent Charlotte Day alongside St Paul American Indian Movement Executive Director Edward Benton-Benai. Day and Benton-Benai then developed the concept with members of the community. First Person Radio interviewed Edward Benton-Benai in 1976.
“So our relationship with the public school system of St. Paul has not been one of romance. They had threatened to pick all the kids up from school and charge them with truancy at one time. When that call came, we sent out a call to the Indian community. In about 40 minutes there were about 250 Indians that surrounded the building and dared them to come and get the kids. And we knew too that we had a responsibility to live up to and that was the maintaining and enlarging of the school.”
This work is funded in part by the Minnesota Humanities Center with money from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund that was created with the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.
Photograph Courtesy of the American Indian Movement Interpretive Center.