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
- Understand past efforts to assimilate Indians through English-only assimilationist schooling and the opposition Indians may show to efforts at forced assimilation.
- Know the lasting effects of the Indian New Deal of the 1930s on American Indian education.
- Understand the effects of the Indian Self-Determination and Civil Rights movements on American Indian education.
- 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 CulturesPurpose:
Educators will understand the great cultural diversity among American Indians, as well as some of their commonalities. Educators will understand:
- What makes someone an American Indian, and what is a tribe today?
- What is an extended family?
- What is the significance of traditional American Indian values, such as humility, interconnectedness, and reciprocity?
- 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 CommunityPurpose:
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 MethodologiesPurpose:
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
Task 1: Be Aware of U.S. American Indian Language Policy
Through most of the history of the United States, American Indian students were discouraged from speaking their native language in schools and even punished for speaking them. This assimilationist educational policy was changed in 1990 when President George H.W. Bush signed the Native American Languages Act (Title I of Public Law 101-477). In this act, Congress said "the status of the cultures and languages of Native Americans is unique and the United States has the responsibility to act together with Native Americans to ensure the survival of these unique cultures and languages." Congress made it the policy of the United States to "preserve, protect, and promote the rights and freedom of Native Americans to use, practice, and develop Native American languages." The act also recognized the "right of Indian tribes and other Native American governing bodies to use the Native American languages as a medium of instruction in all schools funded by the Secretary of the Interior." Furthermore, the act declared "the right of Native Americans to express themselves through the use of Native American languages shall not be restricted in any public proceeding, including publicly supported education programs."
The Native American Languages Act has three important implications. First, it is a continuation of the policy of American Indian self-determination that has been in effect for the last thirty years. Second, it is a reversal of the historic policy of the United States government to suppress American Indian languages in Bureau of Indian Affairs and other schools. Third, it is a reaction to attempts to make English the official language of the United States. In 2006, Congress voted to authorize more funding for language revitalization with the passage of the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act.