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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Guideline: About every two weeks, another of the world's languages dies, and is no longer spoken by anyone. The United States is one of the areas where this is happening, especially in Oklahoma and California, where the last speakers of many American Indian languages are very old. These languages represent vital links to the culture and identity of native peoples. There is increasing interest and effort in ensuring that native children continue to speak their heritage language.
Comanche Nation and Language
This Comanche Nation website focuses on Comanche history and language lessons. Their purpose: To change the direction of the Comanche language. That change is to restore the N?M? TEKWAP? as a living language once more and to take our language of heritage into the future.
2007 United Nations Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP)
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) was adopted by the UN General Assembly on Thursday, 13 September 2007, by a majority of 144 states in favor, 4 votes against (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States) and 11 abstentions (Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Colombia, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Samoa and Ukraine). Click here to view the voting record. In the 11 years that have passed, 4 of the counties that voted against the declaration reversed their decision and now support the declaration. The goal of the Declaration is to encourage countries to work alongside indigenous peoples to solve global issues, like development, multicultural democracy and decentralization. According to Article 31, there is a major emphasis that the indigenous peoples will be able to protect their cultural heritage and other aspects of their culture and tradition in order to preserve their heritage from over controlling nation-states. Know your Rights - for Indigenous Adolescents
*NEW* Declaring Native American Languages in a State of Emergency and Support for an Executive Order on Native American Language Revitalization
This National Congress of American Indians website offers a downloadable PDF of the passed resolution (ABQ-10-021), for Native American Language Revitalization in 2010.
Cultural Survival vs. Forced Assimilation: The Renewed War on Diversity
This 2001 article from the Cultural Survival Quarterly notes "that of the more than two million people who identify themselves as American Indians in the United States, only 361, 978 still speak one of the remaining 154 indigenous languages, and many of those are only spoken by the very old."
Enduring Voices: Saving Disappearing Languages
This National Geographic website explores disappearing languages. The website notes, "nearly 80 percent of the world's population speaks only one percent of its languages. When the last speaker of a language dies, the world loses the knowledge that was contained in that language. The goal of the Enduring Voices Project is to document endangered languages and prevent language extinction by identifying the most crucial areas where languages are endangered and embarking on expeditions to understand the geographic dimensions of language distribution, determine how linguistic diversity is linked to biodiversity, and bring wide attention to the issue of language loss."
What It Means To Be A Navajo Woman (Video)
In this 2010 TEDx video, Jolyana Bitsuie shares her journey becoming Miss Navajo Nation in 2001-2002. As a young girl, Jolyana remembers moving away from the Navajo culture during her formative years as a high school student in Phoenix, Arizona. Two days after winning Miss Navajo Nation, the tragedy of September 11th occurred. Tribal leaders asked Jolyana to bring encouragement and pride to the United States from the Navajo Nation. So, she spent the next year representing the Navajo Nation across the United States. As Miss Navajo, Jolyana shared how she was the representation of her mothers, grandmothers, great grandmothers, and communicated the importance of knowing who you are as an individual. Today, Jolyana teaches urban Navajos to keep their language alive, and be proud of their roots, in order to ensure the survival of Navajo language and culture.
When It's Gone, It's Gone
This 17-minute documentary was filmed and produced by the Norman (Oklahoma) High School Native American Club. As stated by the club, "it examines the dying languages of Native Americans through the eyes of our Elders."
*NEW video* Why Save a Language (2006)
More than half of the 300 indigenous languages of North America are now extinct. But a movement by Native peoples to resurrect and preserve these languages is thriving in many places around the continent. In this film, Native people from various tribes and languages discuss the heart wrenching loss of indigenous languages, and the importance of keeping what remains alive. An important film for any interested in linguistics, saving Native American Indian languages, and saving global languages.
*NEW* 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.
Russell Means - American Indian Reservations and Dying Languages (VIDEO)
In this February 2011 video, American Indian Activist Russell Means cut his hair as a sign of mourning for the suffering of his people. In this video, he speaks about life on American Indian reservations, and about the importance of having a living language.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.