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 1: Develop a Curriculum for American Indian Students

Guideline: Curriculum developed for use in non-Indian schools is seldom appropriate for use with American Indian students without adaptation. In fact, it is important the curriculum being used in any school be adapted to meet the needs of the students in that community. Such curriculum should integrate American Indian history and culture into the school curriculum through place, culture, and community based education.

Activities to Celebrate Native American Heritage

This Education World article offers 12 lessons to help students learn about Native American history and cultures.

First Nations Holistic Lifelong Learning - CCL and Indigenous Learning

In 2007, The Council of Canadian Learning (CCL) identified data gaps and challenges that limit non-Aboriginal understanding of Aboriginal learning; presented three Holistic Lifelong Learning Models for First Nations, Inuit and Métis; and proposes how each model can be used to develop a national, holistic framework for measuring lifelong learning.  Learn how each element in the model relates to First Nations learning, explore what indicators and data can measure success in lifelong learning, and help identify alternative indicators needed to measure success."

Land Tenure Curriculum

This link to the Indian Land Tenure Foundation website provides information on its land tenure curriculum for all educational levels.

Cradleboard Teaching Project

As noted at its website, "the Cradleboard Teaching Project turns on the lights in public education about Native American culture - past, present, and most important for the children - the Future. Backed by lesson plans and an excellent curriculum, the Cradleboard Teaching Project is also live and interactive, and totally unique; children learn with and through their long-distance peers using the new technology alongside standard tools, and delivering the truth to little kids with the help of several American Indian colleges. Cradleboard reaches both Indian and non-Indian children with positive realities, while they are young."

Indian Education Information for Teachers

This link is to the Montana Office of Public Instruction's website providing Indian education resources for teachers. The goal of the Indian Education Division is to assist in the successful implementation of the Indian Education for All Act (MCA 20-1-501) and to work to close the achievement gap for American Indian students in Montana.

Indian Education K-12 Curriculum

This link is to the Minnesota Department of Education's K-12 curriculum framework for Indian education. Though intended for Minnesota schools, the framework may be useful to educators in other states.

American Indian Values Curriculum (2016) ; American Indian Sovereignty Curriculum (2013) ; American Indian Oral Traditions Curriculum (2013)

American Indian Music and Dance Curriculum (2013) ; American Indian Leadership Curriculum (2013) ; American Indian Art Curriculum (2013)

American Indian Contributions Curriculum (2013) ; American Indian Family Life Curriculum (2013) ; American Indian Harmony and Balance Curriculum (2013)

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