The Comanche Nation has begun enrolling students in the Comanche Academy Charter School in Lawton, Oklahoma. The charter school with include instruction in both English and the Comanche language Numunu. According to the Academy’s website, A Comanche-centered education combines the mind, body and spirit. The mind (cognition) cannot be separate from education for the body. The body is a vessel seen as a divine spirit. As a result, the education for mind and body is linked to education for the spirit. Therefore, a Comanche-centered curriculum appeals to the intellect, the humanity, and the spirituality in the learner. In order to make such an appeal, those in charge of teaching and learning must bear in mind that philosophy and thought as well as be convinced of the inherent intellectual capability, humanity, physical capability, and spiritual character of the learner.
An education process with such a firm moral foundation requires a corresponding quality plan of operation. Comanche-centered methods of education emphasize the mentoring, apprenticeship and sociopolitical learning. The content of the educational process includes those things that would help the learner to advance individually along with their families. The intent of this holistic process is to build and develop positive and healthy familial relationships.
The nation was awarded nearly $1 million to aid in the opening of the program, and the dual-language program is accredited by the Oklahoma State Department of Education.. Professional educators will utilize both Comanche (10%) and English (90%) in a dual-language program to teach and reinforce concepts and content. This model will provide a gradual learning process of English and Comanche to acquire proficiency in other subjects such as Math, Science and Social Studies while learning both languages. This approach will support the goals of language and culture revitalization while supporting language and math development.
School Leader Starla Bilyeu told ABC 7, “Death of the language is the dying of your culture as well so it’s a part of total revitalization of our tribal nations and as sovereign entities and to regain that strength and understanding within our own communities and our own tribes.”
“It’s a way to heal our people and to all the different nations and to heal them and provide a way that they can respect and learn about their culture and their history,” Bilyeu said.
The school is currently accepting students grades Pre-K to first, and plans on adding more grades in the future.