Vernon Malan

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Agricultural Extension Service, South Dakota State College

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"To disseminate useful and practical information and to encourage its adoption to the end that people may help themselves by their own efforts achieve a better life" is the purpose for which the Cooperative Extension Service was created by the Smith Lever Act of 1914. It has significantly contributed to the development of rural people and the productive agricultural economy of America. The success of this informal, continuing educational program of Extension in the United States is a major reason for the emphasis on technical assistance programs as a feature ofour foreign policy throughout the less-developed areas of the free world. Peace may well depend upon our success in teaching the people of many cultures to adopt modern technology and efficient production practices as a means of improving their levels of living. While this study deals with the culture of the Dakota Indian as a basis for devising more effective Extension educational programs adapted to their values, attitudes, behavior patterns, and beliefs, Extension experience indicates a need for similar studies in other countries. The same teaching methods and motivational appeals to adapt new practices, accept new ideas and ways of living that have proven so effective in bringing about change in the dominant Anglo-Saxon rural population have been less successful among the Indian people even though significant progress is being made . This poses the question "Why?" Undoubtedly, there are many reasons. One is that cultural differences make it necessary to modify the teaching methods and the motivational stimulus used to bring about change from one culture to another. Part I of this study is an analytical description of the South Dakota Indian culture using the framework of a social systems theory. It is designed to provide Extension workers and others with a better understanding of the Indian people and background knowledge to use as a basis for sound educational program planning, developing improved teaching methods, and evaluating results. Part II of this study, published separately, seeks to apply this understanding to the adaption of the principles of Extension education to the Dakota Indian culture. These reports are a result of a study sponsored by the South Dakota Extension Service in cooperation with the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

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