National Indian Education Association

Boys with Braids Video

The Challenge

In 2021, the North Dakota legislator introduced a bill requiring that Native American history be included in the K-12 curriculum. In a huge win, the bill was passed on a 72-21 vote. Prior to the bill’s passing, it was left up to the individual school districts discretion on whether to bring Native American history into the classroom. The National Indian Education Association (NIEA), a nationwide nonprofit committed to combatting educational issues for Indigenous youth, partnered with Bismarck Public Schools (BPS) to bring awareness and stress the importance of this new curriculum to North Dakota educators. When MABU was presented with this opportunity, we knew the message had to go beyond informative narrative about the curriculum and its benefits. We instead set out to deliver a story from the perspective of the children impacted by it most.

Our Solution

Our team discussed the many challenges Native American students face in school. A key topic that emerged was the mocking boys often encounter because of their long hair. We realized it was exactly the type of behavior this new curriculum could diminish by simply educating children at an early age on the traditions and cultures of their Indigenous classmates. Through this documentary-style video, we shared the story of George Gillette. He was raised with a clear understanding of his culture and the ways of his ancestors. He knew his long hair was a symbol of strength, power, and identity, yet he faced ridicule from classmates. The powerful and inspiring message offered clarity on how the curriculum could help connect both students and teachers of all backgrounds through shared understanding and acknowledgement.