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 5: Prepare Educators to Teach American Indian Students

Guideline: Teacher preparation programs face two challenges in preparing educators to teach American Indian students. The first is the need for American Indian educators to serve as role models for their native students. The second is for all teacher preparation programs to prepare their graduates with the knowledge and skills needed to function in a culturally diverse classroom. New teacher graduates need to know how to use culturally appropriate teaching approaches for different groups. Additionally, professional development initiatives for current educators should explore culturally appropriate teaching approaches for different groups. To do so, educators need an understanding of anthropology, sociology, and history as they relate to American Indians.

Teaching and Learning With Native Americans

Intended for non-Native American adult educators teaching adults, this guide may be helpful for all educators with gaining an understanding of native students.

An Indigenous Approach to Creating a Virtual Library of Education Resources

Though this article details the experiences of a particular project, the first half describes the indigenous approach to learning which is quite useful for educators of indigenous learners.

Building a Native Teaching Force: Important Considerations

This archived ERIC Digest "reviews important considerations in building a Native teaching force by discussing the rationale for developing a Native teaching force, current challenges, and the Native Educators Research Project."

Cultivated Ground: Effective Teaching Practices for Native Students in a Public High School

This document reports on a National Indian Education Assoication project to assess the effective teaching practices being used in one or more superiorly performing United States public high schools that had a high number of American Indian/Alaskan Native students.

Improving Academic Performance among Native American Students: A Review of the Research Literature

Authored by the late William G. Emmert Jr, Ed. D., this literature review examines research-based information on educational approaches  associated with improving the academic performance of native American students.

Native Education 101: Basic Facts about American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian Education

"Native Education 101: Basic Facts about American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian Education is the result of a partnership between the National Education Association and the National Indian Education Association. It gives a glimpse into problems faced by Natives in schools and explains the variety of laws and executive orders."

New Native Teacher Corps

This article reports on the U.S. Department of Education's previously funded Native Educators Research Project. The project's findings identify three implications for Native teacher training.

Power and Place: Indian Education in America

This link is to a review of the book Power and Place: Indian Education in America. Published by the American Indian Graduate Center and Fulcrum Resources this book  examines the issues facing Native American students as they progress through the schools, colleges, and on into professions.

Preparing Teachers To Support American Indian and Alaska Native Student Success and Cultural Heritage

"This ERIC Digest summarizes literature related to preparing educators to bring about American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) student success and discusses what "success" in life means for Indian students of all ages and their extended families."

Specialized Knowledge Base for Teaching American Indian and Alaska Native Students

This article proposes a base of knowledge teachers of Native students should possess. Though oriented towards developing teacher preparation programs at tribal colleges it highlights a body of knowledge that may be useful to all teachers of Native students.

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