The American Indian Education KnowledgeBase

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: Learn About Charter Schools


Guideline: Some supporters of American Indian education are turning to charter schools as a means to reach disaffected students who have performed poorly in other school settings or who have dropped out altogether. While reservation-based charter schools cater totally to native students, urban charter schools cater to American Indians and other students curious about American Indian culture. Such charter schools are being organized in urban communities and reservations. However, operating a charter school is not an easy task; attention must be focused on organization, funding, curriculum, and student achievement. Leaders and educators must prepare for the school's operation properly prior to opening a charter school.

Charter Schools Program

This U.S. Department of Education website provides links to federal legislation, regulations and guidance related to charter schools.

K–8 Charter Schools: Closing the Achievement Gap

This U.S. Department of Education publication "features seven schools that are making significant inroads toward closing the achievement gap in their school communities. As a group, they have created learning environments where historically underserved children are thriving. Schools featured in the guide are located in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, New York, Ohio, and Texas."


National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

As noted at its website, "the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is the national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the charter school movement. The Alliance provides assistance to state charter school associations and resource centers, develops and advocates for improved public policies, and serves as the united voice for this large and diverse movement."


National Charter School Resource Center

As noted at its website, "The National Charter School Resource Center (Charter School Center) serves as a national center to provide on-demand resources, information, and technical assistance to support successful planning, authorizing, implementation, and sustainability of high-quality charter schools; to share evaluations on the effects of charter schools; and to disseminate information about successful practices in charter schools."

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