In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section American Indian Education

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Seminal Government Reports and National Studies
  • Critical Theories and Re-visioning the Future of Indigenous Education
  • Utilizing Indigenous Ways of Knowing to Reframe Schooling for Indigenous Children and Youth
  • Culturally Relevant and Responsive Schooling for Indigenous Children and Youth
  • Reclaiming and Indigenizing Research on Indigenous Education

Related Articles Expand or collapse the "related articles" sectionabout

Forthcoming Articles Expand or collapse the "forthcoming articles" section


Education American Indian Education
Susan C. Faircloth
  • LAST REVIEWED: 27 September 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 September 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0189


This bibliography is structured to present seminal studies, reports, and other key resources that serve to introduce readers to the historical and contemporary issues impacting the education of Indigenous children, youth, and adults. This brief overview of resources is also intended to contextualize and promote increased understanding of the complex history of Indigenous education in the United States— a history complicated by the unique sociopolitical relationships between Indigenous peoples (for the purposes of this resource, American Indian and Alaska Natives) and the United States and its agents—both directly and indirectly. This relationship has implications for the way in which Indigenous students access or have access to educational programs, supports, and services and the values, beliefs, and philosophies that guide these programs, supports, and services. As Indigenous people and their communities continue to move forward in their efforts to engage in locally controlled, self-determined education, and to directly impact the overall design, quality, and ultimately the outcomes of Indigenous education, ongoing examination, reflection, and critique will be required.

General Overviews

According to the 2010 US Census (Norris, et al. 2012), 2.9 million people identify solely as American Indian/Alaska Native—referred to in this manuscript as Indigenous peoples—with an additional 2.3 million identifying as multiracial. The largest “tribal groupings”—a term used by the US Census Bureau to condense and collapse data from related tribes—are Cherokee, Navajo (Diné), Choctaw, Chippewa, Sioux, Apache, Blackfeet, Creek, and Iroquois. The largest Alaska Native tribal groupings include Yup’ik, Inupiat, Tlingit-Haida, Alaskan Athabascan, Aleut, and Tsimshian. According to Kena, et al. 2016, indigenous students represent approximately 1 percent of the total enrollment in public schools (Pre-K–12) in the United States. Ninety-two percent attend public schools, with more than 50 percent attending schools with an indigenous student population of less than 25 percent. Eight percent attend schools operated or funded by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE). Across the nation, data indicate stark differences between indigenous students and their peers, as demonstrated by the following: (1) 35 percent of indigenous students under the age of eighteen live in poverty, compared to 38 percent of Black, 32 percent of Hispanic, 27 percent of Pacific Islander, and 12 percent of White and Asian students (Kena, et al. 2016); (2) higher percentages of American Indian students receive free or reduced lunch than do Pacific Islander, Asian, and White students (Kena, et al. 2016); (3) indigenous students (8 percent) are less likely than all of their peers, except for Hispanic (8 percent) and Black (7 percent) students, to attend low poverty schools—defined as schools in which 25 percent or less of students are eligible to receive free or reduced lunch (Kena, et al. 2016); (4) American Indian students (36 percent) are more likely to attend high poverty schools—defined as schools in which more than 75 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch—than their Pacific Islander (26 percent), Asian (16 percent) and White (8 percent) peers, and they are less likely to attend these schools than are their Black (45 percent) and Hispanic (45 percent) peers (Kena, et al. 2016); (5) Only 53 percent of American Indian students in schools operated or funded by the BIE graduate, compared to 67 percent of American Indian students and 80 percent of all students in public schools (Rafa 2016); and (6) 87 percent of American Indians between the ages of twenty-five and twenty-nine have earned a high school degree or equivalent, compared to 95 percent of Asian/Pacific Islanders and Whites, 93 percent of Blacks, and 77 percent of Hispanics (Kena, et al. 2016). In spite of these statistics, American Indians have demonstrated remarkable resilience and ability to survive and persist. Much of this strength is attributable to their cultural funds of knowledge, which Moll, et al. 1992 argues emanates from their indigenous languages, cultures, and associated lived experiences.

  • Kena, Grace, William Hussar, Joel McFarland, et al. 2016. The condition of education 2016. NCES 2016-144. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.

    This annual report to policymakers details the current condition of education in public elementary, secondary, and postsecondary schools across the United States. To the extent possible, data are presented by race/ethnicity, including American Indian and Alaska Native students.

  • Moll, Luis C., Cathy Amanti, Deborah Neff, and Norma Gonzalez. 1992. Funds of knowledge for teaching: Using a qualitative approach to connect homes and classrooms. Theory Into Practice 31.2: 132–149.

    DOI: 10.1080/00405849209543534

    Moll and colleagues elaborate on the term “funds of knowledge”—the belief that all individuals have their own set of knowledge and expertise, based on their lived experiences, and that such knowledge is valuable and should be valued—as a tool for connecting teachers and families and improving student learning and performance.

  • Norris, Tina, Paula L. Vines, and Elizabeth M. Hoeffel. 2012. The American Indian and Alaska Native population: 2010. 2010 Census Briefs, C2010BR-10. Washington, DC: US Census Bureau.

    Using data from the 2010 Census, this report provides important demographic information regarding the indigenous peoples of the United States, including population size, age, gender, mobility, educational attainment, socioeconomic status, and other variables.

  • Rafa, Alyssa. 2016. State and federal policy: Native American youth. Washington, DC: Education Commission of the States.

    In this report, Rafa provides an overview of issues (e.g., high dropout and low graduation rates) impacting the lives of indigenous youth in the United States, and policies (e.g., the amended Elementary and Secondary Education Act) designed to address these issues at the federal and state level.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.