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

Task 2: Be Aware of the Need for Cultural Group Identity

Guideline: Each student brings to the classroom a personal identity based on his or her family's native origins and cultural characteristics. These factors could impact the student's performance in the classroom and interactions with others. Educators should be aware of American Indian students' potential need for group identity and its impact on students' learning.

Cultural Identity of Students: What Teachers Should Know

This article authored by Lisa A. Jones, an Associate Professor of Multicultural Education at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, offers insights on the need for teachers to be aware of their students' cultural identities.

Identity, Schooling, and Success

A perspective written by Dr. Jon Reyhner of Northern Arizona University, that appeared in the NABE News, March/April 2002. In this column, he offers thoughts on the importance of helping students build a strong positive identity as well as developing their academic knowledge and skills.

Land Issues

This link to the Indian Land Tenure Foundation website provides information on Indian land issues.

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.

Knowing Who You Are

In "this 24-minute video 23 individuals (youth in care, foster care alumni, child welfare professionals, birth families, and resource families) share their perspectives about why race and ethnicity matter and the importance of integrating racial and ethnic identity into child welfare practice." While its focus is on the foster care system, the issues, perceptions and emotions explored are relevant to native American children and teens being aware of their identity. This program was developed by Casey Family Programs, "a Seattle-based national operating foundation that has served children, youth, and families in the child welfare system since 1966."

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