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American Indian Education Knowledgbase

This KnowledgeBase archive includes content and external links that were accurate and relevant as of September 30, 2019.

The American Indian Education KnowledgeBase is an online resource to aid education professionals in their efforts to improve the education of American Indian students and close the achievement gap American Indian students have faced in public, Bureau of Indian Education, and other schools.

Task 1: Prepare Educators to Teach American Indian Students

Guideline: Teacher preparation programs face two challenges in preparing educators to teach American Indian students. The first is the need for American Indian educators to serve as role models for their native students. The second is for all teacher preparation programs to prepare their graduates with the knowledge and skills needed to function in a culturally diverse classroom. New teacher graduates need to know how to use culturally appropriate teaching approaches for different groups. Additionally, professional development initiatives for current educators should explore culturally appropriate teaching approaches for different groups. To do so, educators need an understanding of anthropology, sociology, and history as they relate to American Indians.


10 More Things Teachers Should Never Do When Educating Native Youth

This September 2017 Indian Country article follows up the article 10 Things Teachers Should Never Do When Teaching Native Kids with these additional 10 More Things Teachers Should Never Do When Educating Native Youth which include: overlooking a Native Student's indigenous identity, stereotypically referring to all Native American Indians in the past-tense, teaching the stereotypical Thanksgiving story, using false Indian language or slang, denying American Indian genocide, asking a Native American student to speak for all Native American people, and make assumptions upon their appearance or name whether they are Native American or not.  The pulse of the entire article encourages educators of Native American students is not to give up on them.

7 Things Teachers Need to Know About Native American Heritage Month

In these November 2014 Indian Country Today, and 2017 Students at the Center.Hub articles by Christina Rose, teachers are offered 7 things to know about American Indian History Month. Without guidance, too many teachers will celebrate Native American Heritage Month in the only ways they know how: paper bag vests and feathers, classroom pow wows, and discussions on who Indians were.  Even for teachers with the best intentions, great material may be hard to recognize without understanding the basics: worldview, sovereignty, circular thinking, true history. Teachers who teach local history with facts that include real outcomes will find their students more engaged than when they teach solely from history books.  Teachers can’t know what they don’t know, and if they have never spent time immersed in any Native culture they won’t know the effects of colonization or of ongoing issues in U.S. and Native politics. If teachers do not know the very basic and important facts, they cannot teach Native studies from an unbiased point of view.


American Indian Civics Project: An Introductory and Curricular Guide for Educators

As noted a this website, "the contents were made possible by the American Indian Civics Project (AICP), a project initially funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Native American Higher Education Initiative. The primary goal of the AICP was to provide educators with the tools to educate secondary students - Indian and non-native alike - about the historical and contemporary political, economic, and social characteristics of sovereign tribal nations throughout the United States."

Creating Culturally Dynamic Materials for Rural Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Exceptional Students

This 2004 Sage Journal article focuses on a variety of culturally dynamic methods and materials that have been developed for teachers of Mexican-American and Native American CLDE students in rural areas of Arizona. The instructional materials that are described can be easily adapted for use with other rural CLDE populations by changing the native language and native culture frame of reference to match those of the rural students in the local community.

Lessons and Ideas to Teach Native Americans' Unique History and Culture

This 2013 Bright Hub Education website offers Native American teacher lessons plans and printable worksheets from Pre-K to Grade 12 including: American Indian folktales, culture, food, history, vocabulary and language.

Scholastic Native American Heritage and History Collection

This Scholastic website offers a Pre-K through Grade 12 American Indian heritage, history and curriculum.


Bureau of Indian Education

This Bureau of Indian Education website offers IDEA 2018 Award ApplicationBIE ESSA State Plan, 2018-2021 McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Grant, BIE Reorganization and Reform information, and Monthly Technical Assistance Calls for Special Education beginning in March 2018.


*NEW video* National Dropout Rural Videos (2016)

In 2016, work was completed on a Rural Dropout Prevention Project, funded by the U.S. Department of Education (US ED) through its High School Graduation Initiative (HSGI). The purpose of the Rural Dropout Prevention Project (Contract No. ED-ESE-13-C-0069) was to provide technical assistance to state education agencies and middle and high schools in designing and implementing programs and securing resources to implement effective school dropout prevention and reentry programs in rural communities. The US ED awarded the rural dropout prevention project to Manhattan Strategy Group, which executed the project with assistance from the American Institutes for Research, the National Dropout Prevention Center, and Clemson Broadcast Productions. Project deliverables included producing videos focusing on dropout prevention from each state’s perspective. The videos focus on dropout prevention strategies used or challenges faced, specific to each state or selected state districts. The project provided technical assistance to fourteen states: Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Native American Student and Teacher Resources

This website offers information on Native American tribes, colleges, and scholarships.  Pow Wow descripton, etiquette, singing, dancing, language and lesson aides are also featured.

Preparing Teachers To Support American Indian and Alaska Native Student Success and Cultural Heritage

This 2002 ERIC digest briefly summarizes the literature on preparing educators to promote the success of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) students. Success in Native terms means not only academic achievement but also the development of the whole person. Spirituality and reciprocity (giving back to others) are vital to Indian learning. Teachers must be prepared to present European American paradigms such that they can coexist with Native world views about life's complex interconnections between people and nature. Place-based education can help students connect with their local community and geography. It is critical that teachers of AI/AN children work with students' extended families to enlist their support for literacy and academic achievement; reinforce their efforts to pass on their culture; and help their children develop a strong and resilient identity.  Authors: Don Trent Jacobs and Dr. Jon Reyhner

Voices of Native Youth Report

This report is part of a yearly effort to provide current feedback from Native youth regarding challenges and successes in Indian Country. The purpose of the Voices of Native Youth Report series is to summarize and share what the Center for Native American Youth (CNAY) learns on an annual basis from Native American youth, thereby creating a platform to elevate the on the ground youth voices across tribal and urban Indian communities. Inviting youth to the table for dialogue guides CNAY’s efforts and ensures that the voices of Native youth are present at the national level in discussions with policymakers, federal and tribal partners, and new stakeholders.

What Are Some Great Books About Native American History?

In this May 2016 article, author Robert Collins provides some titles of books about Native American history while also explaining that it is extremely difficult to recommend a single book that does a good job of representing all Native American history and culture. 

Tribal Colleges and Universities

This White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education website offers a map and full listing of existing Tribal Colleges and Universities in the United States and Canada. There is also a goal projection of Tribal Colleges and Universities in 2020.


*NEW video* Creating Environments for Indigenous Youth to Live & Succeed

Indigenous youth experience the highest rates of negative instances such as suicide, yet are the fastest growing demographic in Canada. This has been at the heart of the of the work of Tunchai Redvers, co-founder of We Matter, a national non-profit organization committed to Indigenous youth empowerment, hope and life promotion. In this 2017 Tedx talk, Tunchai makes the case that changing this reality and creating environments for Indigenous youth to both live and succeed means centering Indigenous youth voices, honoring Indigenous strengths, and challenging toxic norms and beliefs. Tunchai Redvers is an Indigenous queer/two-spirit woman, social justice warrior, poet, and wanderer. With Dene and Métis roots, she comes from Treaty 8 territory, born and raised in the Northwest Territories.

*NEW video* Protecting Lakota Culture with Science, Tech, Engineering & Math (STEM)

In this June 2016 Tedx talk, University student and Lakota Vaughn Vargas explores and how traditional Native American culture can STEM have a mutually beneficial connection. Vaughn, a Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe member, has lived in Rapid City for the past 25 years. Vaughn started his academic career at Oglala Lakota College with aspirations to establish a Counseling Service facility centric to Lakota Traditional values. Vaughn has matriculated to the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and will be graduating in December 2016 with a Bachelor’s in Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management. A few of Vaughn’s notable accomplishments are 2013 Mr. AIHEC (American Indian Higher Education Consortium), Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board "2013 Rising Star in Public Health and Research", 2014 Udall Foundation Scholar, 2015 National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development "40 Under 40", Hawkinson Foundation "2015 Peace and Justice Leader", and a 2016 Truman Foundation Finalist (pending notification). Vaughn is currently employed as the Community Advisory Coordinator for the Rapid City Police Department.

Bringing Visibility to the Needs and Interests of Indigenous Students: Implications for Research, Policy, and Practice

With support from Lumina Foundation in 2017, the Association for the Study of Higher Education and the National Institute for Transformation and Equity are excited to launch a collection of national papers on critical underserved populations in postsecondary education.  With photos from the University of Oklahoma American Indian Programs and Services, this report brings visibility to what is currently known about American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians in U.S. higher education. The authors made efforts in particular to highlight what is known that contributes to or hinders their postsecondary access and success. In the end, several recommendations for further research are provided for more equitable policy and practice.

Forgotten Students: American Indian Students' Narrative on College Going

This 2004 UCLA Graduate Studies report by Amy Fann, prepared for the University of California Berkley Center for the Study of Higher Education, states there is an articulated need for higher education in Native American nations.  American Indian students have the highest dropout rates, the lowest academic performance rates, and the lowest college mission and retention rates in the nation.  As Tribal Nations cautiously look to colleges and universities to prepare tribal citizens for participating in nation building efforts that preserve the political and cultural integrity of their people, the college pipeline for American Indians has largely been unaddressed.

Four Hundred Years of Evidence: Culture, Pedagogy, and Native America

In this 2006 Volume 45, Issue 2 of the Journal of American Indian Education, author Roland G. Thorp studies the evidence of the last 400 years of Native American successes and American schools’ failure is to see something radically different. We see instead that a pedagogy derived from Native American socialization practices is superior to that practiced by schools of our common tradition, even for mainstream students.  The task of this paper is to examine the few successful instances of behavior influence and change in this domain and historical period. There are two successes, both richly documented for the 400 years from the 17th through the 20th centuries. Both were achieved by Native Americans themselves, and consequently of crucial importance to our understanding of the effectiveness of Indian methods of teaching and learning.

Alabama Teacher Nurtures Native American Students

This 2016 ED Week video displays how Nicole Williams came back home to Calcedeaver Elementary School in rural Alabama to teach Native American culture, language, dance, and history in a community with a large Choctaw Indian population, mentoring many students through high school.

Native Youth Are More Than Statistics (Video)

In this 2016 TEDx video, Elyssa (Sierra) Concha, who is Lakota, Ojibwa, Taos Pueblo, and a Education graduate of Black Hills State University, walks us through the most commonly told statistics that often are used to define Native American communities.  She also describes her personal experiences that bring the statistics to life. Through her open and honest storytelling, Elyssa shares a message for Native Youth and shares the world that is full of hope and promise for the future generations.

The State of Indian Youth (2016)

In 2016, the Center for Native American Youth (CNAY) wanted to hear from even more of their stakeholders. That is why they launched the first-ever Generation Indigenous (Gen-I) online roundtable, a new online survey for Native youth that asks them to identify the priorities that matter to them and the resources that will help them succeed. CNAY fielded this survey over the summer and heard from nearly 700 Native youth under the age of 25. Throughout this report, the CNAY will be sharing the results of this survey. This is the first in a new yearly series of reports CNAY is calling The State of Native Youth. Every year, CNAY will share what we  learn through our community meetings, surveys, and other work with Native youth throughout the country. CNAY will also analyze the latest data and indicators of Native youth opportunity and success. Finally, and most important, this report will be a platform to lift up the voice of Native youth advocates and highlight the programs across Indian Country and the rest of the United States that are working to improve their lives.

Urban Rez

In 2013, Rocky Mountain PBS presented "Urban Rez," a nationally distributed documentary exploring the lasting legacy and modern-day effects of the Voluntary Relocation Program and policies that encouraged American Indians to leave their homelands and relocate to urban areas across the country from 1952 to 1973.  Additional videos include: the BIASpiritualityLanguage LossEducationCultureCommunity vs Individual, and Boarding Schools.


Cultural Considerations for Teaching American Indian Students

This 2017 University of Montana undergraduate thesis paper focuses on how teachers of American Indian students should prepare to become successful in their goals of engaging productively with their Native American students.

A Native American Response: Why Do Colleges and Universities Fail the Minority Challenge?

This October 2006 paper is meant to challenge colleges and universities to improve recruitment and graduation rates for Native American Indian (i.e. American Indian, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian), students and to provide research and policy recommendations for state and federal programs.  These students are the least likely to attend and complete a university education. 

Education in Indian Country: Obstacles and Opportunity

On most measures of educational success, Native American students trail every other racial and ethnic subgroup of students. To explore the reasons why, Education Week sent a writer, a photographer, and a videographer to American Indian reservations in South Dakota and California earlier this fall. Their work is featured in this 2013 special package of articles, photographs, and multimedia. Commentary essays offer additional perspectives.

New Mexico Public Education Department

This is New Mexico's pubic education department website that offers links for family engagement, students and educators.  There is emphasis on Teacher Spotlights, Teacher Outreach, Professional Development and Licensure.

Preparing Teachers as Allies in Indigenous Education: Benefits of an American Indian Content and Pedagogy Course

This 2016 study explores relationship building and improvements in knowledge, skills, and dispositions of pre-service teachers enrolled in an Indigenous education content and pedagogy methods course. The Teaching American Indian Students in the Elementary Classroom course stands alone from other diversity education offerings at the University of Minnesota Duluth and is a required learning experience. Pre-service teachers are provided with essential knowledge and learning opportunities that facilitate success in working with Indigenous students, and helping mainstream students learn about Native history, peoples, and communities. The evaluation study was conducted by an Indigenous faculty member interested in learning how non-Native teacher education students felt they were achieving target knowledge, skills, and dispositional goals.

Raising Her Voice: Albuquerque Author Fulfills Her Mission to put Native Americans Back in History Books

Historian and researcher Veronica E. Velarde Tiller, a Jicarilla Apache, has taken a long time to tell her story.She’s told and published the stories of her tribe and the 567 federally recognized tribes across the country, in her encyclopedic “Tiller’s Guide to Indian Country,” a third edition just released this month.  “It always seemed to me that Indian history stopped in the 1890s after the era of the big chiefs – like Chief Seattle, Sitting Bull, Geronimo – but there was no contemporary history,” she says, explaining her mission of creating “Tiller’s Guide to Indian Country.”  The book, first published in 1996 and updated about every 10 years, provides a profile of each tribe, so that agencies and corporations, including the federal government, will know a little before they negotiate. It has been used by many, including the U.S. Supreme Court and cited in the court’s findings.  “We’re not invisible anymore,” she says. “The Indian economic renaissance is a powerful success story of the resilience of the human spirit and the promise of America itself.

Stakes High for Bureau of Indian Education's Overhaul

This June 2015 Education Weekly article scrutinizes the Bureau of Indian Affairs BIE (Bureau of Indian Education) nearly 50 years of problems.  A major goal of the reorganization is to shift the role of the BIE from being a provider of education for Native American students to being more of an overseer of and partner to tribal communities that eventually will have the funding and skill set to run their own schools. That plan also calls for training to be provided to the tribes.

The Bureau of Indian Education's Track Record:

• Part of the U.S. Department of the Interior

• Serves about 48,000 K-12 American Indian students, about 7 percent of Native American students overall

• Oversees 183 elementary and secondary schools. Directly operates 57 of those schools, while 64 tribes operate the remaining 126 schools through grants or contracts with the BIE

• Oversees about 11,400 teachers, principals, school administrators, and other staff working within the 183 schools

• Has had 33 directors in the past 36 years

The Subtle Evolution of Native American Education

This September 2015 article explores how compared to their peers, “American Indian” and  “Alaska Native” students aren’t seeing the same growth in enrollment or attainment.   These nuances are important to highlight—if only because America’s indigenous children are so often left out of conversations about closing the “achievement gap.”  Indigenous children in America sometimes attend separate schools whose pedagogy and curricula are tailored to indigenous worldviews and learning needs. These institutions can be charter schoolslanguage-immersion schools, Indian-reservation schools, or even private schools. Yet these programs don’t always achieve their mission. As Education Week reported in a recent analysis, schools run by the beleaguered Bureau of Indian Education—which serves just 5 percent of the country’s Native American children—are often dilapidated and unsafe, plagued by unstable governance and tangled bureaucracy. And within the regular school system, Native American students’ performance still lags far behind that of their peers.

Using Technology to Address Arizona Shortage of Native Teachers

In this January 2011 Arizona State University article, the issue that Arizona there are more than 80,000 American Indian/Alaska Native children of school age – but only about 1,000 Native public school teachers is addressed by the School of Social Transformation’s Center for Indian Education.  Toward that end, the center was awarded a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Indian Education last fall to fund its innovative distance-learning effort “The Arizona Four Corners Teacher Preparation Project.” The four-year project integrates distance-learning technology, summer teaching academies and on-site mentoring to present an opportunity to 16 American Indian/Alaska Native individuals in the Four Corners area to earn a bachelor’s degree and certification in elementary education – without leaving their home communities.

What Every Teacher Needs to Know to Teach Native American Students

This 2009 article by Hani Morgan advises teachers of Native American Students against the dangers of stereotyping, Native American misconceptions, realizing that Native American students have a different learning style and values towards humility and harmony.

10 Rules for Teaching Native Students

This August 2014 Indian Country Today article shares the Andre Cramblit's 30 years of experience teaching American Indian students at all levels (parent, teachers aid, bus driver, high school teacher, education specialist, consultant, head start teacher and director, college instructor, principal, and tribal education director). They are written to an audience of supplemental American Indian Education programs and educators working with Native students. Mr. Cramblit  modified these rules and added to them over the years as he continues to learn and find other successful methodologies, practices and programs.

25 Best Native American Lessons on Pinterest

This Pinterest website offers 25+ Native American lesson plans including art projects, totem poles, elementary, symbols, geography, STEM, and picture stories.

Creating an Educational Pipeline: Training American Indian Teachers

How can we design effective American Indian teacher education programs? “Indigenous control of education has become policy over the past forty
years. What that education looks like is still an issue.” A recent case study (Exton, 2008) took a unique route to program analysis which focused on how the participants in an American Indian teacher training program (secondary education, grades 7-12) developed a sense of teacher identity. Participants included Ute and Navajo teachers. Developing an identity as a teacher is more than a natural process of professional maturation; it is “an important part of securing teachers’ commitment to their work and adherence to professional norms of practice”. In other words, pre-service teachers who develop a core sense of professional purpose are more likely to become effective and reliable teachers. The findings and recommendations drawn from this study can provide suggestions for the design and implementation of future American Indian teacher education programs. 
of teacher identity.   The Exton study found six factors which contributed to developing teacher identity during and after the Ute Teacher Training Program (UTTP). The first three factors (personal, home, and community beliefs) are: 1) giving back to American Indian communities, 2) serving American Indian students, and 3) becoming empowered as American Indian teachers. The next three factors (school-based experiences) are 4) cohort-based peer support, 5) preparation for content area expertise, and 6) teachers as role models. The wheel of emergent patterns (Figure 1) shows that personal, home and community beliefs formed the foundation of teacher identity for the American Indian participants of this study. 

Engaging Inclusive Educators: Teaching Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Exceptional (CLDE) Students in Middle School (2016)

On pages 45 - 49 of the 2016 Conference for Improving Student Outcomes in Rural and Urban Schools, the subject of culturally responsive teaching is explored.

Successfully Educating Urban American Indian Students: An Alternative School Format

This 2003 Journal of American Indian Education (V42, Issue 3) explores an educator who stepped away from the status quo of traditional high school teaching methods and created an educational haven for American Indian students in this case study.

The Native American Heritage Collection

Take a fascinating look at Native American art, history, and culture as told through the historians, artists, students, and scientists in this featured resource collection hat includes: the Cherokee Alphabet, visual art, Music and dance, PBS/Getty historical pictures, lesson plans, and scientist bios.

The contents of this website were developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education and are intended for general reference purposes only. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education or the Center, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. Some resources on this site require Adobe Acrobat Reader. This website archive includes content and external links that were accurate and relevant as of September 30, 2019.