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:
Guideline: To do well in school, a student needs to write well. To become a good writer, it is important to practice writing. Students can develop their skills by writing about something they know, about themselves, and about their communities. An effective way to promote student writing that has been used with American Indian students is process writing. Process writing involves students working in groups to brainstorm writing ideas (prewriting), writing a rough draft, reviewing their and other students' drafts and doing revisions, editing their drafts for grammar and spelling, preparing a final draft for review by their teacher, and publishing their final work in some form. Educators working with native students need to be aware of engaging techniques to support their teaching methods.
*NEW* Native American Languages with Map
This website lists the mapped native languages of the Americas, which are among the most numerous and varied in the world, and provides scholars with rich sources of information on the many ways people make speech and language. The number of distinct languages in North America figures in the hundreds, however, by studying similarities and differences, scientists have placed most tribes into one of about 12 groups.
National Writing Project
This link is to the National Writing Project website. As noted at its website, "The National Writing Project is a professional development network that serves teachers of writing at all grade levels, primary through university, and in all subjects."
Reading and Writing to Create Yourself
Authored by Dr. Jon Reyhner, Northern Arizona University, this article describes how American Indian students can be encouraged to practice and improve their writing skills.
This website contains resources on writing instruction from the National Council of Teachers of English. "The research, policy statements, and information collected here reflect the National Council of Teachers of English's commitment to improving writing instruction for all students."
Native Education and the Pursuit of Happiness
The NCTE archives hold an extensive collection of materials related to language instruction and literature designed for Native American students in the late 1960s and 1970s, including some focused on Rough Rock [a Navajo-operated school in Chinle, Arizona, sought to combine local control of the school with a curriculum that served its population educationally, politically, and psychically. Students at Rough Rock studied (and continue to study today) in English and in Navajo, and they learned Navajo art and science traditions in addition to the standard curriculum. Through a deep, cross-disciplinary immersion in their own culture and history taught largely by Navajo teachers, Rough Rock students could better understand their people’s intellectual traditions and ideas and, by contrast, those of others, as well.] . In one of the most important of these documents, a report on the school from 1969, four Navajo external evaluators examined the school in its third year, tasked by the Rough Rock school board to determine how well the curriculum was working.
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.
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.