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.

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

Task 2: Understand Eligibility for Tribal Membership


Guideline: According to the U.S. Government's Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), no single federal or tribal criterion establishes a person's identity as an American Indian. Enrollment criteria vary, and are determined by the tribe from which Indian blood may be derived. Generally, if linkage to an identified tribal member is far removed, one would not qualify for membership.

To be eligible for BIA services, an American Indian must be:
  • a member of a tribe recognized by the federal government,
  • of one-half or more American Indian blood of tribes indigenous to the United States; or
  • for some purposes, be of one-fourth or more American Indian ancestry.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Indian Tribes

Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Indian Tribes, reprinted from: The Grand Ronde Tribes newspaper The Smoke Signal, provides a series of questions and answers explaining who Indians are, where they came from, tribal structure, and other related questions about Indian sovereignty, culture, and values. It can be used as an instructional and orientation tool for teachers.

Guide to Tracing Your American Indian Ancestry

This link is to a U.S. Department of the Interior guide addressing the purpose of tribal enrollment, membership requirements, how to apply, and how to locate an ancestral tribe.


Native American Indian Genealogy

This link to Access Genealogy provides such Native American records as tribal histories, final rolls, census, and an extensive collection of online books.

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

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