Native Village 
Youth and Education News

September 2013

Former Jamestown College prof bases games on N.D. tribes
www.thedickinsonpress.com/
Condensed by Native Village

 

North Dakota: AnnMaria De Mars wants to teach math to children while incorporating Native American history, as told by the natives themselves. And she wants it to be fun.

So the former Jamestown College (ND) professor became CEO of 7 Generation Games based in California.

De Mars is creating computer games with tribal members from Spirit Lake and Turtle Mountain Reservations. The games enable students to incorporate math skills during virtual journeys in the life of Native Americans before European colonization.

“The thing about the game I like is — it’s just fun,” De Mars said. “Test scores are going up, but the kids are also having a really good day.”

It is now being tested by students on the Spirit Lake Reservation, where the first of the seven-game series is based.

“We’re trying to insert as much cultural content as possible,” said Erich Longie of Spirit Lake Nation who is testing the game in Spirit Lake elementary classrooms “We want to give students history from our side.”

De Mar says consulting with Longie keeps the Spirit Lake game accurate and assures that it doesn’t exploit parts of the Dakota culture considered sacred,

“I think for the people on the reservation, it’s nice to hear something positive, (like this game),” she said. “It was tested there. ... A lot of the ideas came from their classrooms.”

De Mars’ seven-game series will be available worldwide. It’s not just for Native Americans, and it’s not just for schools, she said.

The school version of the Spirit Lake game will be available in a beta version next spring.  A commercial version of the game will be available online in February.

Longie said he’s excited for how the game can help both native and non-native children learn.

For Native American children, “it helps them understand who they are and where they come from,” Longie said. “I think it will bring the races closer together if a non-native kid plays the game — I think he would have a lot of respect for us.”

Spirit Lake Game

 

De Mars is working with Turtle Mountain reservation on the game 3, which is based there.

 

Game 3 will be called Buffalo Trail. It follows the Sioux people as they travel and encounter many other tribes.

De Mars said her team has “a zillion ideas” for the last 4 Game installments.  She won't reveal them. :-)

De Mars’ company has received over $500,000 in federal grants to create these games. It has also received money through Kickstarter.com and other investors.  Kickstarter funding allows the company to donate 1,000 game licenses to schools and after-school programs.


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