Aquila Tapio ’10 MAE

Naadamaadiwin — Helping one another

picture of Aquila TapioWhen she was growing up, Aquila Tapio said she never really knew what she wanted to do. “I just wanted to help people,” she said.

Until recently, Tapio and her husband helped Native American children as foster parents through the Indian Child Welfare Act program. And then after the birth of her second child, she decided it was time for her to return to the workforce.

“I wanted to help Native American kids and keep doing the work we were doing at home,” she says. So when Tapio discovered Augsburg’s tribal special education program, she knew she had found the right fit.

Naadamaadiwin, Ojibwe for “helping one another,” is a partnership between the University of Minnesota-Duluth Center for Indigenous Knowledge and Language Revitalization and the Augsburg College Master of Arts in Education program. Naadamaadiwin is a special education licensure program in emotional behavioral disorders and learning disabilities with a focus on the unique needs of Native American children.

For Tapio, a member of the Oglala Lakota in South Dakota, working with Native children and families through the education system is important because education is a “touchy issue” for Native Americans. “We need teachers who know where people come from and who understand the history and trauma families have experienced,” she says. “Having a Native teacher provides comfort to students and their parents.”

Tapio is completing her student teaching this term at Longfellow Humanities Magnet School in St. Paul. She says the Naadamaadiwin program has given her a new way to give Native children the consistency and support they need. “No matter how many times you have to tell them something, they will pick it up,” she says. “They are capable. They can do anything.”

Naadamaadiwin is a two-year cohort-based program with classes meeting primarily online. For more information, go to the Augsburg College MAE website.

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