American Indian Education KnowledgeBase

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

This KnowledgeBase is currently being updated to reflect recent changes under federal law. The current version is provided for your reference as much of the information may still be relevant.

Element 1: Foundations and Current Status of American Indian Education

Purpose: To ensure educators working with American Indian students are aware of past efforts at improving the academic achievement of these students, the limited success of these efforts, and current federally funded Indian education programs

Educators will:

  1. Understand past efforts to assimilate Indians through English-only assimilationist schooling and the opposition Indians may show to efforts at forced assimilation.
  2. Know the lasting effects of the Indian New Deal of the 1930s on American Indian education.
  3. Understand the effects of the Indian Self-Determination and Civil Rights movements on American Indian education.
  4. Understand the relationship between Indian tribes, states, and the federal government's Bureau of Indian Education.

Activity 1: Understand the History of American Indian Education

Activity 2: Understand the Current Status of American Indian Education

Element 2: American Indian Cultures

Purpose: Educators will understand the great cultural diversity among American Indians, as well as some of their commonalities. Educators will understand:
  1. What makes someone an American Indian, and what is a tribe today?
  2. What is an extended family?
  3. What is the significance of traditional American Indian values, such as humility, interconnectedness, and reciprocity?
  4. What should all Americans know about American Indians?

Activity 1: Be Aware of Tribal and Family Structures

Activity 2: Understand American Indian Traditional Tribal Values

Element 3: Understanding Your School and Community

Purpose: Assessing American Indian students' academic performance and working with local tribes and other Indian organizations are necessary to develop culturally responsive teaching methods. Educators should:
  • Examine current American Indian student test scores, attendance rates, and dropout rates;
  • Work with tribes and community organizations; and
  • Work with national American Indian organizations and the National Indian Education Association.

Activity 1: Take a Snapshot of Your School and Community

Activity 2: Work With and Involve Community and Parents

Task 2: Integrate Social Studies

Guideline: Standard Social Studies textbooks tend to treat American Indians as people who used to live in America, if they address them at all. All students, but especially American Indian students, need to learn about tribal histories and current tribal governments as part of the Social Studies curriculum.

American Indian Issues: 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."

Are You Teaching the Real Story of the "First Thanksgiving"?

This link is to an Education World article on teaching about Thanksgiving. As noted in the article's introduction, "the relationship of the Indians and Pilgrims on Thanksgiving Day can easily be trivialized by teachers. This resource helps teachers give a more accurate picture of what happened."

Culturally Responsive Curriculum for Secondary Schools

Produced by the Northwest Indian Applied Research Institute at Evergreen State College "this curriculum project provides current, as well as historically correct, information that can be easily adapted or integrated into the Social Studies units of all public schools."

Should We Celebrate Columbus Day?

This llink is to an Education World esson plan for grades 6-12. As noted in the lesson plan's introduction, "students use inquiry-based learning to gather information about Columbus's impact on the Americas. They use this information to answer the question of whether a fictitious community should continue to recognize Columbus Day."

Smithsonian Education

This resource provides a database of education resources available through the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies. Native American related content can be found lesson plans, resources and Smithsonian educational resources aligned to state standards. This database may be useful for teachers searching for culturally responsive resources.

Southwest Crossroads: Footpaths

As noted at its website,"Southwest Crossroads features Footpaths-lesson plans for students in grades 7-12, created by and for educators. Each Footpath presents selected materials and carefully designed questions that guide students through lessons tied to curricular standards. Footpaths encourage students to remain focused while exploring a diversity of documents, images, and multimedia features. Footpaths include practical information to help teachers plan and select appropriate lessons."

National Museum of the American Indian

This link to The Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian provides educational resources on American Indians.

Element 4: Use Culturally Responsive Teaching Methodologies

Purpose: Some research suggests one reason for the achievement gap faced by American Indian students is cultural conflicts between American Indian homes and schools. Accordingly, culturally responsive teaching methodologies should address:
  • American Indian learning styles;
  • Indianizing curriculum;
  • Ethnomathematics and ethnoscience;
  • American Indian charter and magnet schools; and
  • Language revitalization.

Activity 1: Helping American Indian Children to Learn

Activity 2: Integrate American Indian History and Culture into School Curriculum

Activity 3: The Role of American Indian Charter and Magnet Schools

Activity 4: Teaching Indigenous Languages