Mona Halcomb celebrates win for native curriculum in Oregon public schools

Mona Halcomb

M.A. in Cultural Studies alum Mona Halcomb (’11) was thrilled to witness Oregon Governor Kate Brown sign Senate Bill 13: Tribal History & Sovereignty Curriculum into law on September 18, 2017. SB 13 requires school districts statewide to implement American Indian/ Alaskan Native curricula covering tribal history and sovereignty. SB 13 fills a critical gap for Oregon’s K-12 children: by the 2019-2020 academic year, all districts must teach the Essential Understandings of Oregon Indians curriculum. As a member of the SB 13 coalition and Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Mona testified in support of the bill back in February.

Mona is an Indian Education Specialist for Oregon Department of Education where her main focus is oversight of the Tribal Attendance Pilot Project. A week before the bill’s passage, Mona co-presented a webinar titled “Portraits of Change: Aligning School and Community Resources to Reduce Chronic Absence,” which examined new research on chronic absenteeism and featured success stories. The webinar gained national exposure with over 1100 educators and specialists attending. Mona is encouraged by the progress she is witnessing through her work. “I get the opportunity every day to let native students discover and pursue their potential.” She credits the Cultural Studies program for strengthening her communication skills and abilities to disrupt power dynamics and interpret policies through a cultural lens.

Senate Bill 13 being signed
Senate Bill 13 being signed (Mona, second to the left from the governor)