American Indian Education KnowledgeBase
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.
Element 1: Foundations and Current Status of American Indian Education
Purpose: To ensure educators, in support of American Indian students, understand the historical principles which guides the academic journey of these students, the challenges and barriers which impacts these efforts, and current trends and research which are the basis for Indian education programs today.
- Understand the concept of tribal sovereignty and the relationship between Indian tribes, states, and the federal government's Bureau of Indian Education.
- Understand past efforts to assimilate Indians through English-only assimilationist schooling and the opposition Indians may show to efforts at forced assimilation.
- Know the lasting effects of the Indian New Deal of the 1930s on American Indian education.
- Understand the effects of the Red Power Movement, Indian Self-Determination, and United Nations human rights declarations on American Indians and American Indian education.
Activity 1: Understand the History of American Indian Education
American Indian tribes negotiated a multiplicity of treaties with the U.S. government, which then imposed upon them a number of laws and policies to promote the educational development of American Indian children.
- Task 1: Understand the Concept of Tribal Sovereignty
- Task 2: Understand the Assimilationist History of American Indian Education
- Task 3: Learn About the Indian New Deal of the 1930s
- Task 4: Understand the Impact of Indian Self-Determination, the American Indian Movement (AIM), and the Red Power Movement on Indian Education
Activity 2: Understand the Current Laws, Funding, and Academic Resources for American Indian Students
The federal government has responded to treaty provisions enacted between tribal governments and the United States which required educational support for American Indian children by developing and implementing educational programs in response to the federal trust responsibility of the U.S. Government. The following Tasks will outline that response to treaty obligations.
- Task 1: Understand Major Federal Legislation Affecting American Indian Education
- Task 2: Understand the Bureau of Indian Education or Tribal Funded Schools
- Task 3: Understand Federal Indian Education Funding Available to Educate American Indian Students on Tribal Lands or Urban/Reservation Schools
- Task 4: Understand State and Federal Funding Available to Educate American Indian Students in Public Schools
Element 2: American Indian Cultures
Purpose: Educators will increase awareness and understanding of the breadth and scope of cultural diversity that exists among American Indian tribal communities, as well as shared values and traditions of American Indian people.
Educators will understand:
- What makes someone an American Indian, and what is a tribal nation today?
- What is an extended family?
- What is the significance of traditional American Indian values, such as humility, interconnectedness, and reciprocity?
- What should all Americans know about American Indians?
Activity 1: Understand Tribal and Family Structures
Educators will understand the process of federal recognition of tribes, tribal enrollment, and treaty making that has impacted American Indian tribal people since the founding of the United States. Educators will also learn about the structure and the importance of American Indian tribes, clans, bands, and extended families to American Indians.
- Task 1: Understand Federal and State Tribal Recognition
- Task 2: Understand Eligibility for Tribal Citizenship
- Task 3: Be Familiar with the Structure of Tribes, Clans, Bands, and Extended Families
Activity 2: Understand American Indian Traditional Tribal Values
Educators will understand and respect the importance of cultural values and traditional concepts which help to shape the mindset of American Indian children and their families. Educators will understand the complex challenges faced by American Indian children in today’s classroom as a result of conflicting value systems.
Element 3: Understanding Your School and Community
Purpose: Assessing American Indian students’ academic performance and developing culturally-based education approaches in collaboration with local tribes, Indian organizations and Native communities are essential for improved educational opportunities. Educators should:
- Examine current American Indian achievement assessments, attendance, dropout and graduation rates;
- Collaborate with tribes and Native communities, and;
- Collaborate with national American Indian organizations and the National Indian Education Association (NIEA).
Activity 1: Take a Snapshot of Your School and Community
- Task 1: Get Organized for Data Collection
- Task 2: Examine Student Performance Data
- Task 3: Gather Information About the Local American Indian Tribes
- Task 4: Summarize Snapshot Findings
Activity 2: Work with and Involve Community and Parents
Element 4: Integrate American Indian History, Language, and Culture into School Curriculum
Purpose: Research indicates that it is important to affirm students’ identity and one reason for the academic achievement gap that American Indian students face is that a one-size-fits-all national curriculum represented in textbooks fails to give positive recognition to American Indian histories and cultures.
Activity 1: Create an American Indian Curriculum
It is important for American Indian and Alaska Native students to have the standard state and national curriculums they are exposed to in school be supplemented with curriculum that reflects their background and the community that they live in.
- Task 1: Develop a Curriculum for American Indian Students
- Task 2: Integrate Social Studies
- Task 3: Incorporate Ethnomathematics and Ethnoscience
- Task 4: Apply to Reading and Children's Literature
- Task 5: Instill Through Writing
- Task 6: Available Indian Education Curriculum in Repositories
Activity 2: Teaching Indigenous Languages
Too often, an English-only policy in American schools has suppressed American Indian languages and cultures. The Native American Languages Act passed by U.S. Congress, and signed by President George H. W. Bush in 1990, enforces United States Policy to support, preserve, and protect American Indian languages. Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act Act of 2006 The 2007 United Nation’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has given further support to that goal. Today, Indigenous peoples are working through Indigenous language immersion schools to revitalize their languages and cultures.
Element 5: Explore Schools Serving American Indian Students
Purpose: Charter and immersion schools are offering American Indians more flexibility in working to improve the education of their children by affording American Indian communities more power to shape the schooling their children receive.
Activity 1: The Role and impact of American Indian Charter and Magnet Schools
Learn about charter and immersion schools and how they can provide alternatives to public, Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools, and tribally controlled schools, allowing American Indian communities to provide more culturally appropriate education for their children.
- Task 1: Learn About Charter Schools (Non-Profit)/State Funded/Federally Funded)
- Task 2: Be Familiar with American Indian Charter Schools
- Task 3: Be Familiar with Tribal Immersion Schools
Activity 2: Discover how Tribal Operated Schools and Indian Charter Schools Relate to One Another
The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) and mainstream public schools have not been successful in bringing up the average test scores and graduation rates of American Indian students to national averages. Learn how Tribally Operated and Indian Charter Schools are providing alternatives that show promise in improving the academic and life success of American Indian students.
Element 6: Use Culturally Responsive Teaching Methodologies
Purpose: Research suggests one reason for the achievement gap faced by American Indian students is cultural conflicts between American Indian homes and schools. Accordingly, teachers should be prepared to meet the needs of American Indian and other Indigenous students, including using culturally responsive teaching methodologies that incorporate American Indian learning styles, avoiding biased teaching and stereotypes, and addressing the needs of gifted education and other special needs students.
Activity 1: Prepare Educators to Teach American Indian Students
One-size-fits-all educational reforms, despite being somewhat “evidence based”, have left behind many American Indian students. Learn how adjusting teaching methods and materials to fit American Indian students’ cultural and experiential backgrounds can make them more engaged learners and improve their academic performance.
- Task 1: Prepare Educators to Teach American Indian Students
- Task 2: Be Aware of American Indian Learning Styles
- Task 3: Avoid Biased Teaching and Stereotypes
- Task 4: Understand the American Indian Perspective on Gifted and Talented Education
- Task 5: Identify and Serve Special Needs American Indian Students
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.