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

Introduction

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.

Seminal Government Reports and National Studies

In exchange for their lands, many indigenous peoples in the United States were promised the provision of health, education, and welfare by the federal government. As part of its federal trust responsibility, the federal government is tasked with monitoring educational programs and service provided to its indigenous peoples. As such, the government has commissioned a number of reports examining the condition of indigenous education and offering recommendations for improving the quality and types of services provided (e.g., Meriam and Work 1928; Senate Special Subcommittee on Indian Education 1969; Fuchs and Havighurst 1973; US Department of Education 1991; Cahape and Howley 1992; White House Conference on Indian Education 1992; Indian Nations at Risk Task Force 1994; Ninneman, et al. 2017; Scheirbeck, et al. 1976). As evidenced in this section, the most cited of these reports consistently point out the failure of the federal government to provide adequate, timely, and effective educational services to indigenous children and youth.

  • Cahape, Patricia, and Craig B. Howley, eds. 1992. Indian nations at risk: Listening to the people. Summaries of papers commissioned by the Indian Nations at Risk Task Force of the US Department of Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 339 588.) Washington, DC: Office of Educational Research and Improvement.

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    Summaries of twenty papers commissioned by the Indian Nations at Risk Task Force are presented in this report. Topics include the condition of Indian education; demographic data; roles and responsibilities for Indian education; funding; personnel; program evaluation; early childhood education; dropout prevention programs and services; parent and family involvement; technology; curricula; tribally controlled colleges and universities; adult, technical, and vocational education; and the future of Indian education.

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  • Fuchs, Estelle, and Robert J. Havighurst. 1973. To live on this Earth: American Indian education. Garden City, NY: Anchor Press/Doubleday.

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    Fuchs and Havighurst report findings from Havighurst’s multiyear study of Indian education, funded by the US Office of Education, which cites the ongoing failure of the US government to provide appropriate educational services for American Indian children. Fuchs and Havighurst also note the desire of many indigenous communities to be more engaged in and in control of the education of indigenous children.

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  • Indian Nations at Risk Task Force. 1994. Toward true Native education: A treaty of 1992; Final report of the Indian Nations at Risk Task Force. Draft 3. Journal of American Indian Education 33.2: 7–56.

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    This task force was charged with issuing a report that would “change the decades of disappointing academic performance among the nation’s [I]ndigenous peoples” (p. 10). The resulting report characterized US education policies as part of a “secret war against Native people” (p. 15). The initial draft called for a new era in Indian education that would serve to undo the five hundred years of educational policies and practices aimed at eradicating Indian peoples, their languages, and their cultures.

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  • Meriam, Lewis, and Hubert Work. 1928. The problem of Indian administration: Report of a survey made at the request of honorable Hubert Work, secretary of the interior, and submitted to him, February 21, 1928 (No. 17). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins.

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    Commissioned by the secretary of the interior, Honorable Hubert Work, the Meriam Report cites the failure of the federal government to meet the educational needs of American Indian students in the United States, as evidenced by inadequate facilities, poorly designed curriculum, low teacher pay, and other factors.

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  • Ninneman, Anne M., Jamie Deaton, and Karen Francis-Begay. 2017. National Indian Education Study 2015: American Indian and Alaska Native students at grades 4 and 8. NCES 2017–161. Washington, DC: Institute of Education Sciences.

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    Data for this study are drawn from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and a separate survey of a randomly selected group of indigenous students, in grades four and eight, in fourteen states with significant populations of indigenous students. In addition to achievement test data, students are asked about their “educational experiences.” Qualitative data regarding students’ educational experiences provide useful information regarding the connection between academic achievement and culturally relevant teaching and learning practices.

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  • Scheirbeck, Helen Maynor, Earl J. Barlow, Lorraine F. Misiaszek, Kathy McKee, and Kyle Joan Patterson. 1976. Report on Indian education –Task Force Five: Indian education—Final report to the American Indian Policy Review Commission. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. 164 230. Washington, DC: Congress of the United States.

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    Authorized under Public Law 93–580, which established the American Indian Policy Review Commission, this report presents a number of short- and long-term recommendations regarding the overall quality and delivery of educational programs and services for American Indians. Recommendations include increased local/tribal control of Indian education, improved data collection and reporting, and a reaffirmation of congressional support for the education of American Indians.

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  • Senate Special Subcommittee on Indian Education. 1969. Indian education: A national tragedy—A national challenge. 1969 Report of the Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, United States Senate. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 034 625.) Washington, DC: Senate Special Subcommittee on Indian Education.

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    Also known as the Kennedy Report, this document cites the failure of the federal government to educate indigenous students, as evidenced by high dropout rates, low levels of academic achievement, a shortage of indigenous teachers and principals, lack of desire to teach indigenous students, and a belief among some indigenous children that they are less intelligent than their peers. These findings “illuminate a national tragedy and a national disgrace” (p. x) in the education of indigenous children and youth.

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  • US Department of Education. 1991. Indian nations at risk: An educational strategy for action. Final report. Final Report of the Indian Nations at Risk Task Force. Washington, DC: US Department of Education.

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    This report describes Indian nations as being at risk due to the failure of the US government to educate indigenous peoples, the “rapid” loss of indigenous languages and cultures, threats to indigenous lands and resources, and failure of the federal government and its agents to honor the right of tribes to be self-determined and self-governing.

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  • White House Conference on Indian Education. 1992. White House Conference on Indian Education: Final report. Vols. 1–2. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 353 123.) Washington, DC: White House Conference on Indian Education.

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    Authorized by the 1987 amendments to the Indian Education Act, the White House Conference on Indian Education addressed the governance of Indian education programs; the well-being of Indian communities and delivery of services; literacy, student academic achievement, and high school graduation; safe, alcohol and drug-free schools; the education of students with disabilities; school readiness; Native languages and culture; funding; postsecondary education; school personnel; and adult education and partnerships between parents, communities, and tribes.

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Assimilationist Educational Policies and Practices

Barnhardt 2001, Deloria and Wildcat 2001, Deyhle and Swisher 1997, Lomawaima and McCarty 2002, Reyhner and Eder 2004, and Szasz 1999 tell compelling stories of the history of indigenous education in the United States—stories of acculturation, assimilation, forced removal, and stolen languages, resulting in low levels of educational persistence and attainment. This is also a story of the battle to regain indigenous control of the design and delivery of education and to establish a system of tribally controlled postsecondary education. Child and Klopotek 2014 extends this discussion by offering perspectives on indigenous education from both within and beyond the geographical boundaries of the United States.

  • Barnhardt, Carol. 2001. A history of schooling for Alaska Native people. Journal of American Indian Education 40.1: 1–30.

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    Barnhardt provides an overview of the history of formalized education for Alaska Natives from the late 1800s, when Alaska was purchased from Russia, to the 1990s, when successful efforts to reform the educational system and return control of education to Alaska Native groups were realized. Barnhardt’s work is important in helping to situate and contextualize the similarities and differences in the educational experiences and subsequent academic outcomes of Alaska Natives and their American Indian counterparts.

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  • Child, Brenda J., and Brian Klopotek, eds. 2014. Indian subjects: Hemispheric perspectives on the history of indigenous education. Santa Fe, NM: School for Advanced Research.

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    This edited volume extends the public’s knowledge and understanding of Indian education beyond the boarding school era and the geographical confines of the United States. In doing so, it includes authors from multiple disciplines (e.g., anthropology, law, history, literature, indigenous studies), offering a variety of perspectives on education from indigenous peoples across the Western Hemisphere.

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  • Deloria, Vine, Jr., and Daniel R. Wildcat. 2001. Power and place: Indian education in America. Golden, CO: Fulcrum.

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    In this book, the power and place metaphor reflects the indigenous belief that power emanates from the spiritual realm, everything has its place, and certain experiences are associated with this place. For many indigenous students, cognitive dissonance occurs when what is taught in school conflicts with the traditional indigenous knowledges and ways of knowing taught by their elders and other tribal members.

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  • Deyhle, Donna, and Karen Swisher. 1997. Research in American Indian and Alaska Native education: From assimilation to self-determination. Review of Research in Education 22:113–194.

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    Deyhle and Swisher discuss the history of Indian education in the United States. They underscore the fact that in spite of attempts to acculturate and assimilate them, American Indian and Alaska Native peoples have made great strides in moving toward increased local control and self-determination in the educational arena, as evidenced by the establishment of tribally controlled schools, colleges, and universities.

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  • Lomawaima, K. Tsianina, and Teresa L. McCarty. 2002. When tribal sovereignty challenges democracy: American Indian education and the democratic ideal. American Educational Research Journal 39.2: 279–305.

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    Lomawaima and McCarty review the history of Indian education in the United States from the establishment of the nation-state to the present day, highlighting the tensions that emerge when the principles of self-determination of indigenous tribes and peoples are at odds with the principles of democracy heralded by the nation-state.

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  • Reyhner, Jon A., and Jeanne Eder. 2004. American Indian education: A history. Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press.

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    Reyhner and Eder present a historical and contemporary review of indigenous education in the United States from the colonial era to the 21st century. They draw on extensive review of archival data housed at the D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies located at the Newberry Library in Chicago. For more information regarding D’Arcy McNickle Center, see the Newberry Library website.

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  • Szasz, Margaret. 1999. Education and the American Indian: The road to self-determination since 1928. 3d ed. Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press.

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    Szasz presents a detailed review of indigenous education in the United States from 1928, and the publication of the Meriam Report, to the 1990s and the White House Conference on Indian Education. In doing so, she focuses on schools operated or funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and tribally controlled schools. Limited attention is given to indigenous students on the East Coast of the United States or to those in Alaska.

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Boarding Schools

As demonstrated in the sections above, for more than five hundred years the federal government, and its agents, has worked to assimilate and acculturate indigenous peoples. Education has been used as a primary tool for furthering these efforts. This is best demonstrated in a quote by Colonel Richard Henry Pratt, the originator and director of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, one of the first federally operated boarding schools for Indian children and youth. (For additional information on the Carlisle Indian School, see the website of the Carlisle Indian School Digital Resource Center at Dickinson College). Pratt’s motto was “kill the Indian to save the man.” The following resources describe this momentous period in history, during which American Indian and Alaska Native children were removed from their home communities—sometimes forcefully and other times willingly—and placed in schools that were often far from their homes. Adams 1995; Bahr 2014; Child 1998; Fear-Segal and Rose 2016; Gilbert 2010; Gram 2015; Lomawaima 1995; and Trafzer, et al. 2006 depict the genesis and evolution of the boarding school movement and its eventual demise as the primary mode of educational delivery for American Indian and Alaska Native students.

  • Adams, David Wallace. 1995. Education for extinction: American Indians and the boarding school experience, 1875–1928. Lawrence: Univ. of Kansas Press.

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    Adams presents a comprehensive overview of the boarding school movement in the United States, from 1875 to 1928, and its attempt to acculturate and assimilate American Indian children and youth. He uses a combination of photographic evidence and written word to support his arguments regarding this movement.

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  • Bahr, Diana Meyers. 2014. The students of Sherman Indian School: Education and Native identity since 1892. Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press.

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    Bahr presents a qualitative study of Sherman Indian School, an off-reservation boarding school established in 1892 in Riverside, California. She describes Sherman students as being part of the “middle course . . . an [intentional] effort to maintain the integrity of their native culture[s] while making accommodations that allowed them to succeed in school” (p. 7).

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  • Child, Brenda J. 1998. Boarding school seasons: American Indian families, 1900–1940. Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press.

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    Child’s qualitative study of boarding schools serving American Indians focuses on the decisions leading to the placement of children and youth in these schools, as well as the impacts and effects on parents and families. Child draws on historical artifacts, primarily letters, to tell this story.

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  • Fear-Segal, Jacqueline, and Susan D. Rose, eds. 2016. Carlisle Indian Industrial School: Indigenous histories, memories, and reclamations. Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press.

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    The authors weave together “poems, memory pieces, academic analyses, stories, prayers, and songs” (p. 4) presented at the Carlisle Symposium in 2012. The symposium was held at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, home of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. Carlisle opened in 1879 and was the centerpiece of the US government’s plan, under the direction of Colonel Richard Henry Pratt, “to transform Native children from ‘savagery’ to ‘civilization’” (p. 2).

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  • Gilbert, Matthew Sakiestewa. 2010. Education beyond the mesas: Hopi students at Sherman Institute, 1902–1929. Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press.

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    Gilbert relays stories of Hopi students, from northeastern Arizona, who attended Sherman Institute (also known as Sherman Indian School) between 1902 and 1929. As Gilbert relays, the Hopi experience was unique, in that “instead of allowing their boarding school experience to destroy the Hopi way of life, . . . [they] maintained the integrity of their culture, made accommodations to succeed at school, and used the skills they learned to contribute to their village communities” (p. xxix) upon their return home. Trafzer, et al. 2006 describes this as “turning the power” (p. xxx).

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  • Gram, John R. 2015. Education at the edge of empire: Negotiating Pueblo identity in New Mexico’s Indian boarding schools. Seattle: Univ. of Washington Press.

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    Gram portrays two federally operated boarding schools in New Mexico—Sante Fe Indian School and Albuquerque Indian School—which he characterizes as being agents of an “empire” (the United States) that sought to control and contain indigenous peoples. Although established to serve a multi-tribal student population, these schools primarily served students from the Pueblos of New Mexico. Gram argues that “what makes the Pueblos’ experience noteworthy is how, why, and to what extent they were able to modify and redirect the assimilative force of two federal boarding schools built in their own backyard” (p. 7).

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  • Lomawaima, K. Tsianina. 1995. They called it prairie light: The story of Chilocco Indian School. Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press.

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    Drawing on extensive fieldwork and archival research, Lomawaima tells a story of Chilocco Indian Agricultural School, a federally operated boarding school located in north-central Oklahoma. Lomawaima describes this as “a story of Indian students—loyal to each other, linked as family, and subversive in their resistance” (p. xi). She uses the term “a story” as an acknowledgement of the fact that there are multiple stories of Chilocco rather than one singular story, each with its own truths.

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  • Trafzer, Clifford E., Jean A. Keller, and Lorene Sisquoc, eds. 2006. Boarding school blues: Revisiting American Indian educational experiences. Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press.

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    Trafzer, Keller, and Sisquoc present a series of essays aimed at telling the history of boarding schools—both the positive and negative aspects—and their lasting impact on the education of indigenous students today. A range of boarding schools (e.g., Carlisle Indian Industrial School, Rainy Mountain Boarding School, Rapid City Indian School, St. Boniface Indian School, Sherman Institute) is represented in this book.

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Critical Theories and Re-visioning the Future of Indigenous Education

Critical theories offer a means by which one may critically examine and respond to a variety of phenomena, including those involving educational programs and practices. According to Kincheloe and McLaren 2002, critical theory is “concerned in particular with issues of power and justice and ways that the economy; matters of race, class, and gender; ideologies; discourses; education; religion and other social institutions; and cultural dynamics interact to construct a social system” (p. 90). Critical theory has the “ability to disrupt and challenge the status quo” (p. 87). The development and use of critical theories is important for a field such as the study of indigenous education, in which an entire group of people has been repeatedly subjected to programs and practices aimed at eradicating their languages and cultures and reshaping them into a mold revered by the dominant social and political forces. Brayboy 2005 is by one of the first indigenous scholars to articulate critical theory in such a way as to reflect indigenous values, beliefs, and experiences within the educational arena. In a similar vein, the Quechua scholar Sandy Grande’s Red Pedagogy (Grande 2015) takes a critical approach to the study of education by setting forth an indigenous framework, and some might argue lifeway, for critiquing education and re-visioning and redesigning educational programs, practices, and systems to be more congruent with indigenous ways of thinking, knowing, and doing.

  • Brayboy, Bryan McKinley Jones. 2005. Toward a tribal critical race theory in education. Urban Review 37.5 (December): 425–446.

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    “Tribal Crit” offers a means by which to understand the “complicated [social and political] relationship” between indigenous peoples and the federal government. Tenets include colonization as a societal issue; government as imperialist, white supremacist, and gain-oriented; complexity of identity; pursuit of “tribal sovereignty, tribal autonomy, self-determination, and self-identification” (p. 429); the “indigenous lens” (p. 429); the impact of assimilationist policies and practices; the importance of indigenous “philosophies, beliefs, customs, traditions, and visions for the future” (p. 429); the relationship between story and theory; and the connection between theory and practice.

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  • Grande, Sandy. 2015. Red pedagogy: Native American social and political thought. Tenth Anniversary ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

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    Red Pedagogy offers a perspective from which to interrogate and rethink indigenous education and the ways in which it has been shaped by Western knowledges and beliefs, and to continually push back against forces that serve to delegitimize and silence indigenous knowledges and ways of knowing. This 10th anniversary edition revisits and extends this work by inviting scholars to respond to the original text in ways that “engage, extend, critique, speak back to, and intensify” it (p. 8).

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  • Kincheloe, Joe L., and Peter McLaren. 2002. Rethinking critical theory and qualitative research. In Ethnography and schools: Qualitative approaches to the study of education. Edited by Yali Zou and Enrique Trueba, 87–138. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

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    Kincheloe and McLaren attempt to reconceptualize and define critical theory and explore its relationship to critical qualitative research, a process by which the researcher seeks to recognize the ways in which one works to interpret and give meaning to data and the power dynamics that help to shape this process.

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Countering the Effects of Assimilationist Educational Policies and Practices

The resources presented below address efforts to combat the effects of assimilationist educational policies and practices that have threatened indigenous languages and cultures (Administration for Native Americans n.d., McCarty 2002, McCarty 2012, McCarty 2013, McCarty and Nicholas 2014, Siebens and Julian 2011—all cited under Reclaiming and Revitalizing Indigenous Languages), contributed to low levels of academic achievement and educational persistence (Faircloth and Tippeconnic 2010, McCardle and Berninger 2015—both cited under Improving Academic Achievement and Educational Persistence), and placed indigenous children and youth at increased risk for referral and placement into special education programs and services, particularly in the early grades (Faircloth 2006; Hibel, et al. 2008; Kena, et al. 2016—all cited under Disproportionate Referral and Placement in Special Education Programs and Services).

Reclaiming and Revitalizing Indigenous Languages

One of the most devastating and long-lasting effects of the United States’ assimilationist education policies for indigenous peoples is the assault on indigenous languages, resulting in the loss of fluent speakers and in many cases the loss of indigenous languages. This loss has a significant adverse impact on indigenous peoples, as demonstrated in a congressional report which argued that “the traditional languages of Native Americans are an integral part of their cultures and identities and form the basic medium for the transmission, and thus survival, of Native American cultures, literatures, histories, religions, political institutions, and values” (Administration for Native Americans n.d., p. 3). Although language revitalization efforts are in place, there are less than 200 indigenous languages still spoken across the United States. According to Siebens and Julian 2011, the most commonly spoken indigenous languages in the United States, not including the Native Hawaiian language, are Navajo, Yupik, Dakota, Apache, Keres, Cherokee, Choctaw, Zuni, Ojibwa, and Pima. More than 20 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native peoples aged sixty-five and older indicate that they speak an indigenous language. In contrast, only about 10 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives between the ages of five and seventeen report speaking an indigenous language. The majority of individuals who report speaking an indigenous language reside in Alaska, Arizona, and New Mexico. McCarty 2002, McCarty 2012, McCarty 2013, and McCarty and Nicholas 2014 discuss efforts to reclaim, revitalize, and retain indigenous languages across the United States.

  • Administration for Native Americans. n.d. Native language preservation: A reference guide for establishing archives and repositories. Washington, DC: Native Languages Archives Repository Project.

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    Funded by the Administration for Native Americans, within the US Department of Health and Human Services, this guide provides useful information on the preservation and maintenance of indigenous languages. Emphasis is placed on locating and preserving heritage language resources.

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  • McCarty, Teresa L. 2002. Between possibility and constraint: Indigenous language education, planning, and policy in the United States. In Language policies in education: Critical issues. Edited by James W. Tollefson, 285–308. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

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    Drawing on her extensive work in the area of indigenous languages, McCarty presents findings from three sites in the United States—Rough Rock on the Navajo reservation, Peach Springs Hualapai Bilingual Bicultural Programs in the southwestern United States, and immersion schools in Hawaii. McCarty argues that in spite of the tensions that exist between Western and indigenous beliefs, policies, and practices, it is possible to support and promote indigenous languages.

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  • McCarty, Teresa L. 2012. Indigenous languages and cultures in Native American student achievement: Promising practices and cautionary findings. In Standing together: American Indian education as culturally responsive pedagogy. Edited by Beverly J. Klug, 97–119. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

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    McCarty presents findings from research originally commissioned by the Office of Indian Education, US Department of Education, to identify promising practices in the teaching of indigenous languages and cultures, and their impact on the academic achievement of American Indian and Alaska Native students.

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  • McCarty, Teresa L. 2013. Language planning and policy in Native America: History, theory, praxis. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.

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    McCarty brings together the voices of indigenous peoples from across the United States as they work to reclaim, revitalize, and retain indigenous languages. She begins this book with an overview of language planning and policies, followed by lessons learned from her work on the Navajo Reservation, as well as with language programs in Hawaii and California. She concludes with current examples of language programs.

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  • McCarty, Teresa L., and Sheilah E. Nicholas. 2014. Reclaiming indigenous languages. Review of Research in Education 38.1 (March): 106–136.

    DOI: 10.3102/0091732X13507894Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors review the literature on the ways in which schools and other educational organizations are working to reclaim indigenous languages. Four cases are highlighted: the Mohawk or Kanienkeha language, the Nāwahīokalani‘õpu‘u (Nāwahī) Laboratory School, the Hopilavayi Institute, and the Navajo School. Three findings are exemplified by these cases: the role of sovereignty and trust, the importance of sustained and in-depth access to and engagement with indigenous languages, and the intergenerational nature of language reclamation and revitalization.

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  • Siebens, Julie, and Tiffany Julian. 2011. Native North American languages spoken at home in the United States and Puerto Rico: 2016–2010. American Community Survey Briefs, ACSBR/10–10. Washington, DC: US Census Bureau.

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    Drawing on data from the 2010 US Census, this report describes the number and type of languages spoken across the United States. Data indicate more than 160 indigenous languages still spoken in the United States, though older individuals are more apt to speak these languages than are young people.

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Improving Academic Achievement and Educational Persistence

Faircloth and Tippeconnic 2010 argues that the US government, and its agents, has failed to meet its responsibility to provide adequate educational programs and services for indigenous students. This is evidenced by high dropout and low graduation rates across the nation. Examples of efforts to address these issues are presented in the edited volume McCardle and Berninger 2015.

  • Faircloth, Susan, and John W. Tippeconnic III. 2010. The dropout/graduation crisis among American Indian and Alaska Native students: Failure to respond places the future of Native peoples at risk. Los Angeles: Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA.

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    Commissioned by the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA, this report discusses low graduation and high dropout rates in states with the highest concentrations of American Indian and Alaska Native students. Faircloth and Tippeconnic refer to this as a crisis in Indian education and evidence of the federal government’s failure to take on its trust responsibility for its indigenous peoples. Copublished by the Center for the Study of Leadership in American Indian Education at Pennsylvania State University.

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  • McCardle, Peggy, and Virginia Berninger, eds. 2015. Narrowing the achievement gap for Native American students: Paying the educational debt. New York: Routledge.

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    In spite of efforts to improve the educational conditions and subsequent academic performance of indigenous students, challenges persist. McCardle and Berninger’s monograph includes fifteen chapters addressing topics such as literacy, Native youth, curriculum, research, the future of Indian education, professional development, early childhood education, the achievement gap, evidence-based practices, instructional approaches, children with disabilities, and school culture—and ways in which to tackle these challenges. Each chapter concludes with a commentary.

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Disproportionate Referral and Placement in Special Education Programs and Services

According to Kena, et al. 2016, indigenous students have the highest rate of special education participation (17 percent) compared to their peers—Black (15 percent), White (13 percent), Hispanic (12 percent), Pacific Islander (11 percent) and Asian (6 percent) students. They are most likely to be served under the categories of specific learning disabilities and speech or language impairments. Indigenous students are also more likely to be served under the category of developmental delays (8 percent) than are their peers. Once in special education, many indigenous students do not go on to graduate—27 percent drop out before graduation. To address these issues, Faircloth 2006 and Hibel, et al. 2008 discuss factors associated with the identification, referral, and placement of indigenous students in special education programs and services in the early grades.

  • Faircloth, Susan C. 2006. Early childhood education among American Indian/Alaska Native children with disabilities: Implications for research and practice. Rural Special Education Quarterly 25.1: 25–31.

    DOI: 10.1177/875687050602500105Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Faircloth discusses issues involving the education of young American Indian and Alaska Native children with special educational needs. She cites a lack of research on this topic and the need to ensure young children received culturally relevant prevention and intervention services.

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  • Hibel, Jacob, Susan C. Faircloth, and George Farkas. 2008. Unpacking the placement of American Indian and Alaska Native students in special education programs and services in the early grades: School readiness as a predictive variable. Harvard Educational Review 78.3: 498–528.

    DOI: 10.17763/haer.78.3.8w010nq4u83348q5Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Hibel, Faircloth, and Farkas examine data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study to identify factors associated with the identification and placement of American Indian and Alaska Native students in special education programs and services in the early grades. Using these data, they found a relationship between special education identification and placement and school readiness, as measured by students’ scores on standardized assessments of pre-reading and pre-math.

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

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    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.

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The Role of Early Childhood Education

Although much of the research on indigenous education has focused on kindergarten through twelfth grade, there is an urgent and ongoing need to learn more about the ways in which American Indian and Alaska Native children’s early learning experiences help to prepare them for school and thus set the stage for their subsequent academic achievement, as well as their social and emotional development and well-being. Faircloth 2015 and Marks, et al. 2003 discuss findings and implications for the education of young indigenous children, resulting from their in-depth reviews of literature on this topic.

  • Faircloth, Susan C. 2015. The early childhood education of American Indian and Alaska Native children: State of the research. Journal of American Indian Education 54.1: 99–126.

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    Building on Marks, et al. 2003, Faircloth reviewed existing literature specific to the education of young American Indian and Alaska Native children. Her review cites a lack of quantitative, empirical studies; the need for studies of young indigenous children residing in non-reservation, urban areas; and the need for studies examining the cultural aspects of early childhood education for indigenous children and youth.

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  • Marks, Ellen, L. Melinda K. Moyer, Michelle Roche, and Elliott T. Graham. 2003. A summary of research and publications on early childhood for American Indian and Alaska Native children. Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services.

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    Marks and colleagues review the literature and identify several critical aspects in the education of young indigenous children, including culturally relevant curriculum, the relationship between language and literacy, teacher training and professional development, parent/family involvement, fair and unbiased assessment practices, and health and wellness. They also cite the need to improve the overall quality and scope of research on the education of young indigenous children.

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Utilizing Indigenous Ways of Knowing to Reframe Schooling for Indigenous Children and Youth

The phrase “indigenous knowledges and ways of knowing” is used to describe the unique ways in which indigenous peoples come to experience and know the world and all that is in it. Battiste 2002 argues that “indigenous knowledge benchmarks the limitations of Eurocentric theory—its methodology, evidence and conclusions—re-conceptualizes the resilience and self-reliance of indigenous peoples, and underscores the importance of their own philosophies, heritages, and educational processes” (p. 5). For educators, indigenous knowledges and ways of knowing provide a culturally relevant and meaningful approach to designing and delivering educational programs and services for indigenous students. Brayboy and Maughan 2009; Cajete 1994; Cajete and Santa Clara Pueblo 2010; Cleary and Peacock 1998;Deyhle and Comeau 2009; and Villegas, et al. 2008 provide concrete examples of ways in which indigenous knowledges can and have been applied to the education of indigenous children across the nation.

  • Battiste, Marie. 2002. Indigenous knowledge and pedagogy in First Nations education: A literature review with recommendations. Prepared for the National Working Group on Education and the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC). Ottawa, ON: Apamuwek Institute.

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    Battiste reviews the literature on the term “indigenous knowledge” and provides recommendations for how it may be used in designing and delivering education for the indigenous or First Nations peoples of Canada. In doing so, Battiste addresses the challenge of defining a body of knowledge that is typically transmitted orally rather than in formal writing.

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  • Brayboy, Bryan McKinley Jones, and Emma Maughan. 2009. Indigenous knowledges and the story of the bean. Harvard Educational Review 79.1: 1–21, 166, 168.

    DOI: 10.17763/haer.79.1.l0u6435086352229Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Brayboy and Maughan discuss ways in which teacher preparation can draw from indigenous knowledges—in this case, lessons learned from the planting and growing of a bean—to create more authentic and culturally relevant learning opportunities. Lessons gleaned from this article have implications not only for the preparation of indigenous teachers, but also for others teaching indigenous students.

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  • Cajete, Gregory A. 1994. Look to the mountain: An ecology of indigenous education. Durango, CO: Kivaki.

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    Cajete presents an indigenous approach to education based on seven principles: (1) asking [seeking guidance], (2) seeking [looking for our true selves], (3) making [using knowledge of one’s self and the world to create something], (4) having [possessing an understanding and acceptance of who we are and what our role in this world is to be], (5) sharing [teaching others], (6) celebrating [honoring all that one has learned], and (7) being [acknowledging and being thankful for all that one is and has].

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  • Cajete, Gregory A., and Santa Clara Pueblo. 2010 December. Contemporary indigenous education: A nature- centered American Indian philosophy for a 21st century world. Futures 42.10: 1126–1132.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.futures.2010.08.013Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Cajete calls for a re-visioning of indigenous education to acknowledge and reflect the relationship between education and the larger realms of life. According to Cajete, this calls for deep thinking about the meaning and purpose of education. Cajete argues that this process must be led by indigenous peoples themselves.

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  • Cleary, Linda Miller, and Thomas D. Peacock. 1998. Collected wisdom: American Indian education. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

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    Cleary and Peacock draw on lessons learned from interviews with teachers in the United States, Australia, and Costa Rica (each teacher had experience teaching indigenous students). Case studies were developed based on these interviews and are presented in each chapter, along with related research. Topics include cultural difference oppression, living and being in a non-indigenous world, indigenous language, learning, literacy, and student motivation.

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  • Deyhle, Donna, and Karen Gayton Comeau. 2009. Connecting the circle in American Indian education. In The Routledge international companion to multicultural education. Edited by J. A. Banks, 265–275. New York: Routledge.

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    Deyhle and Comeau use the metaphor of the circle to discuss the way in which they believe indigenous education in the United States can move full circle from “self-determination” in prehistoric times to self-determined, locally and tribally controlled education in the 21st century. They argue that indigenous knowledges are at the core of this movement.

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  • Villegas, Malia, Sabina Rok Neugebauer, and Kerry R. Venegas, eds. 2008. Indigenous knowledge and education: Sites of struggle, strength, and survivance. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education.

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    Villegas, Neugebauer, and Venegas present a compilation of articles originally published in the Harvard Educational Review that speak to the role of indigenous knowledges in education. The book is divided into three sections, covering struggle, strength, and survivance. Each chapter addresses the importance of recognizing and embracing the gifts and strengths that indigenous peoples possess, and of using these gifts and strengths as assets rather than deficits.

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Culturally Relevant and Responsive Schooling for Indigenous Children and Youth

As schools and communities work to address the effects of assimilationist educational policies and practices, there is an increasing call to enact what Gay 2010 describes as culturally responsive teaching practices, “using the cultural knowledge, prior experiences, frames of reference, and performance styles of ethnically diverse students to make learning more relevant to and effective for them” (p. 31). This is an approach that recognizes and builds on the strengths of children, youth, families, and communities. Aguilera and LeCompte, 2007; Beaulieu 2006; Brayboy and Castagno 2009; Castagno and Brayboy 2008; Demmert and Towner 2003; Klug 2012; McCarty and Lee 2014; Nelson-Barber and Trumbull 2007; Reyhner, et. al. 2011; and Reyhner, et al. 2013 discuss ways in which educators, tribes, researchers, and others work to make educational programs and practices more culturally relevant for Indigenous students.

  • Aguilera, Dorothy, and Margaret D. LeCompte. 2007. Resiliency in Native languages: The tale of three indigenous communities’ experiences with language immersion. Journal of American Indian Education 46.3: 1–36.

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    Aguilera and LeCompte present the results of an ethnographic study involving three different Native communities—in Alaska, the Navajo Nation, and Hawaii. The authors argue that the language immersion programs represented by these three sites serve as models for the melding of Native language instruction and the teaching of core academic skills.

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  • Beaulieu, David. 2006. A survey and assessment of culturally based education programs for Native American students in the United States. Journal of American Indian Education 45.2: 50–61.

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    This study identifies five types of culturally based education programs utilized with indigenous students in the United States, ranging from those that teach using a Native language to those using culturally relevant instructional materials. The author found that culturally based instruction occurred most often in schools with high concentrations (25 percent or more) of indigenous students.

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  • Brayboy, Bryan McKinley Jones, and Angelina Castagno. 2009. Self-determination through self-education: Culturally responsive schooling for indigenous students in the USA. Teaching Education 20.1: 31–53.

    DOI: 10.1080/10476210802681709Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Brayboy and Castagno review existing evidence regarding the impact of culturally responsive schooling on the academic performance of indigenous students in the United States. Although they identify multiple examples of culturally responsive schooling in practice, they note that many indigenous students continue to lag behind their peers in terms of academic performance, highlighting the need to continue to refine teaching practices, and related policies, in order to ensure they are effective for the students with whom they are being implemented.

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  • Castagno, Angelina E., and Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy. 2008. Culturally responsive schooling for indigenous youth: A review of the literature. Review of Educational Research 78.4: 941–993.

    DOI: 10.3102/0034654308323036Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Castagno and Brayboy review the literature on culturally responsive schooling. In doing so, they argue for a new iteration of culturally responsive schooling that moves beyond stereotypes and attempts to more accurately teach with and about American Indian and Alaska Native students.

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  • Demmert, William G., Jr., and John C. Towner. 2003. A review of the research literature on the influences of culturally based education on the academic performance of Native American Students. Final paper. Portland, OR: Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory.

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    Reviewing experimental, quasi-experimental and non-experimental studies, the authors identify “six critical elements” (p. 9) of culturally based education, including indigenous language, indigenous knowledges and ways of doing, blending of traditional and contemporary ways of knowing and doing, inclusion of indigenous concepts of spirituality, indigenous participation in the design and delivery of programs, and “knowledge and use of the social and political mores of the community” (p. 10). The authors originally intended to focus on studies employing “experimental or quasi-experimental methodology” (p. 10).

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  • Gay, Geneva. 2010. Culturally responsive teaching: Theory, research, and practice. 2d ed. New York: Teachers College.

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    The second edition of Gay’s seminal work on culturally responsive teaching addresses the challenges of teaching children who are deemed to be underperforming or underachieving, coupled with examples of ways in which culturally responsive teaching practices have been shown to support and enhance students’ achievement and growth. In doing so, Gay describes the integral connections between the concepts of care, communication, curriculum, and instruction.

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  • Klug, Beverly J., ed. 2012. Standing together: American Indian education as culturally responsive pedagogy. Lanham, NY: Rowman & Littlefield Education.

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    Klug’s edited book presents the work of members of the Association of Teacher Educators who were convened to examine American Indian education in the United States. The authors utilize examples from the field to demonstrate what has not worked, as well as what is working to promote culturally relevant and affirming educational practices for indigenous children and youth.

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  • McCarty, Teresa L., and Tiffany S. Lee. 2014. Critical culturally sustaining/revitalizing pedagogy and indigenous education sovereignty. Harvard Educational Review 84.1: 101–136.

    DOI: 10.17763/haer.84.1.q83746nl5pj34216Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors present lessons learned from ethnographic studies with the Native American Community Academy and Puente de Hózhó school, both in New Mexico. These lessons are particularly important as indigenous peoples and communities work to sustain their languages and cultures while educating their children and youth in schools that often privilege non-indigenous languages and cultures over indigenous languages and cultures.

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  • Nelson-Barber, Sharon, and Elise Trumbull. 2007. Making assessment practices valid for indigenous American students. Journal of American Indian Education 46.3: 132–147.

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    Nelson-Barber and Trumbull discuss ways in which to develop and conduct valid assessments of indigenous students. Recommendations include drawing on local indigenous knowledges to assess students, ensuring students understand the language used on assessment instruments, and employing assessors who know and understand students’ linguistic and cultural background.

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  • Reyhner, Jon, W. Sakiestewa Gilbert, and Louise Lockard, eds. 2011. Honoring our heritage: Culturally appropriate approaches for teaching indigenous students. Flagstaff: Northern Arizona Univ.

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    Published by Northern Arizona University (NAU), this monograph presents the results of two American Indian Teacher Education Conferences held in 2009 and 2010 at NAU. The nine chapters in this monograph address the following topics: culture-based education, culturally appropriate education, culturally based science curriculum, problem-based learning, teacher education and science, culture-based arts education, learning, transformation, and the importance of relationships in education.

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  • Reyhner, Jon, Joseph Martin, Louise Lockard, and W. Sakiestewa Gilbert, eds. 2013. Honoring our children: Culturally appropriate approaches for teaching indigenous students. Flagstaff: Northern Arizona Univ.

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    Published by Northern Arizona University, this monograph contains eleven chapters addressing the following topics: youth, indigenous education in Alaska, teaching, indigenous knowledges, professional development, oral history, and the use of photographs to teach history and culture. This publication represents an attempt to bring together indigenous and Western knowledges and teaching approaches “to improve school experiences for both indigenous and non-indigenous students” (p. vii).

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Increasing Access to and Participation in Systems of Higher Education

As indicated in the sections above, indigenous students in the United States have typically not fared well in the education system. As a result, indigenous peoples remain underrepresented among the nation’s college-going students. Today, 35 percent of indigenous students between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four attend college, compared to 33 percent of Black, 35 percent of Hispanic, 65 percent of Asian, 42 percent of White, and 41 percent of Pacific Islander students (Kena, et al. 2016). However, only 13 percent of all indigenous students aged twenty-five or older have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 29 percent of Whites, 18 percent of Blacks, and 14 percent of Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islanders (Ogunwole, et al. 2012). Without appropriate supports and services, and a recognition and understanding of students’ cultural identities and sense of self (e.g., Huffman 2008) once in college, this trend is likely to continue, as less than 1 percent of all college students identify as American Indian/Alaska Native. A similar trend is found among faculty, with less than 1 percent of all faculty in colleges and universities identifying as American Indian or Alaska Native (Kena, et al. 2016). To improve access to higher education, during the 1960s, tribes began to establish tribal colleges and universities. Since the first tribal college, Navajo Community College (now known as Diné College) was established in 1968, the tribal college movement has now grown to include thirty-seven colleges and universities across the nation. Today, more than 160,000 individuals, indigenous and non-indigenous, are served by these institutions, according to the American Indian Higher Education Consortium.

Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities

The manuscripts cited below focus on colleges and universities founded and operated by tribes and tribal organizations since the 1960s. Today, there are nearly forty tribal colleges offering remedial education associates, four-year, master’s, and other postsecondary degrees and certificates. Stein 1992 examines the relationship between the nation’s first tribally controlled colleges and the organization charged with advocating on behalf of these institutions, the American Indian Higher Education Consortium. Boyer 1997, Benham and Stein 2003, Stein 1992, and Warner and Gipp 2009 chronicle the evolution of the tribally controlled colleges and universities movement, which stemmed from the civil rights and self-determination movements of the 1960s and sought to bring access and control of higher education to tribal communities and their members, as well as nontribal members residing on or near tribal communities. Boyer 1997 discusses the development of the first tribally controlled colleges and their potential for future growth. Benham and Stein 2003 furthers this discussion by presenting a series of essays detailing the ways in which tribal colleges work to bring access to higher education to tribal communities. Finally, Chavez and Minthorn 2015 examines the unique ways in which indigenous leadership plays out in a variety of postsecondary settings, including tribally controlled colleges and universities.

  • Benham, Maenette K. P., and Wayne J. Stein, eds. 2003. The renaissance of American Indian higher education: Capturing the dream. New York: Routledge.

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    This edited volume relays the history of the tribal college movement; considers the future of tribal colleges and their relationship to indigenous communities and mainstream institutions of higher education; explores ways in which to address the needs of faculty, staff, and students; and discusses the role of technology in tribally controlled colleges and universities.

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  • Boyer, Paul. 1997. Native American colleges: Progress and prospects San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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    A special report of the Ernest L. Boyer project of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Boyer relays the history of the tribal college movement and presents recommendations moving tribal colleges forward and sustaining them for the years to come.

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  • Chavez, Alicia Fedelina, and Robin Minthorn, eds. 2015. Indigenous leadership in higher education. New York: Routledge.

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    This book is divided into three sections, titled Gathering Wisdom: Indigenous Leadership in Higher Education; Indigenous Leadership Essays; and Recommendations for Higher Education. One of the most striking features of this book is the second section, which presents the real life leadership stories of indigenous leaders in higher education and the lessons they have learned from living and leading.

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  • Stein, Wayne J. 1992. Tribally controlled colleges: Making good medicine. American Indian Studies 3. New York: Peter Lang.

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    Stein provides an overview of the first ten years of the tribal college movement. He then focuses on six of the original tribal colleges—Navajo Community College (now known as Diné College), D-Q University, Oglala Lakota College, Sinte Gleska College (now known as Sinte Gleska University), Turtle Mountain Community College, and Standing Rock Community College (now known as Sitting Bull College)—and the role of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, an organization charged with advocating on behalf the nation’s tribally controlled colleges and universities.

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  • Warner, Linda Sue, and Gerald E. Gipp, eds. 2009. Tradition and culture in the millennium: Tribal colleges and universities. Charlotte, NC: Information Age.

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    Written primarily from the perspective of individuals who are, or have been, intimately involved in the tribal college movement, this edited book examines the history of tribal colleges, the role of American Indian cultures and traditions in the organization and life of these colleges, leadership, technology, and the future of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, an organization advocating on behalf of tribally controlled colleges and universities.

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The Role of Higher Education in Tribal Nation Building

Brayboy, et al. 2012 and Brayboy, et al. 2014 discuss the role of institutions of higher education in supporting tribes’ pursuit and attainment of local control, self-determination, and sovereignty as independent tribal nations. They argue that this synergistic relationship is critical in building and strengthen tribal nationhood, a process Brayboy, et al. 2012 and Brayboy, et al. 2014 refer to as “nation building.”

  • Brayboy, Bryan McKinley Jones, Angelina E. Castagno, and Jessica A. Solyom. 2014. Looking into the hearts of Native peoples: Nation building as an institutional orientation for graduate education. American Journal of Education 120.4: 575–596.

    DOI: 10.1086/676908Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors build on Guinier’s concept of “democratic merit” to discuss the ways in which a teacher training program worked to support indigenous students and helped to promote nation building. Lessons gleaned from this article are instructive for institutions of higher education as they work to recruit, admit, retain, and otherwise be responsive to the needs and priorities of Native communities, their families, and tribal communities.

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  • Brayboy, Bryan McKinley Jones, Amy J. Fann, Angelina E. Castagno, and Jessica A. Solyom. 2012. Postsecondary education for American Indian and Alaska Natives: Higher education for nation building and self-determination. ASHE Higher Education Report 37.5. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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    Brayboy and colleagues provide a historical overview of indigenous peoples and their experiences with higher education systems in the United States. The authors then discuss the ways in which higher education relates to “nation building [the process of building tribes’ capacity and ability to determine their needs and direct the futures of tribes and their members], sovereignty [self governance], self-determination, indigenous knowledge systems, as well as the role of culturally responsive teaching and learning” (p. vii). Recommendations are also offered for improving the “recruitment, retention, and graduation” (p. viii) of indigenous students.

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Reclaiming and Indigenizing Research on Indigenous Education

Denzin, et al. 2008; Lomawaima 2000; Shotton, et al. 2013; and Smith 2012 each bring indigenous perspectives to the act of designing and implementing research projects in and with indigenous peoples and communities. While Lomawaima 2000 and Shotton, et al. 2013 emphasize the role of research in elementary, secondary, and postsecondary environments within the United States, Smith 2012 adds an international perspective, emanating from the author’s lived experience as a Māori scholar in New Zealand. Denzin, et al. 2008 offers a range of national and international perspectives on the design, implementation, analysis, and dissemination of indigenous research, cautioning researchers to be mindful of why and how this research is being conducted. Together, these four works offer insight in how to center indigenous peoples and communities when conducting research, and to move away from traditional approaches that serve to take rather than give back to those with whom research is conducted.

  • Denzin, Norman K., Yvonna S. Lincoln, and Linda Tuhiwai Smith, eds. 2008. Handbook of critical and indigenous methodologies. Los Angeles: SAGE.

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    This edited volume addresses both the divergence and convergence of critical and indigenous research methodologies. Citing the potential for critical theory alone to essentialize and attempt to speak on behalf of or for indigenous peoples, the editors argue for the creation of a “moral space that aligns indigenous research with critical theory” (p. 10). In order to create this space, researchers must ask and “affirmatively answer” eight key questions regarding the type of research to be conducted, by whom and for whom the research will be conducted, the value and benefit of the research, and the ownership of the research.

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  • Lomawaima, K. Tsianina. 2000. Tribal sovereigns: Reframing research in American Indian education. Harvard Educational Review 70.1: 1–21.

    DOI: 10.17763/haer.70.1.b133t0976714n73rSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Lomawaima underscores the importance of tribal review and approval, as well as reciprocity, in research involving indigenous peoples. In doing so, she poses three critical questions: “How has the balance of power in Indian country shifted in the last four decades? How have tribes acted on their concerns about intellectual property and cultural patrimony, and what sort of research review guidelines have they implemented? [and] What does the new balance of power mean for the future of educational research within Native American communities and schools?” (p. 2).

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  • Shotton, Heather J., Shelly C. Lowe, and Stephanie J. Waterman, eds. 2013. Beyond the asterisk: Understanding Native students in higher education. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

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    This book brings together the work of indigenous authors who argue for improved efforts to more accurately include and represent indigenous students in educational decision making and planning at the postsecondary level. Although this book focuses on research specific to postsecondary education, it has implications for a wide range of research involving indigenous students, schools, and communities.

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  • Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. 2012. Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples. 2d ed. London: Zed Books.

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    Smith provides a counternarrative to traditional, colonialist, Western approaches to research, arguing instead for the adoption and use of indigenous methodologies when conducting research with indigenous peoples and communities.

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Supplemental Resources

Academic and Scholarly Journals

Across the United States, only two journals are devoted to publishing articles focused on indigenous education. The Journal of American Indian Education publishes peer-reviewed academic and scholarly articles addressing issues of importance to pre-kindergarten through postsecondary education. The Tribal College Journal of American Indian Higher Education, also peer-reviewed, primarily publishes articles related to postsecondary education and programs and services provided by tribally controlled colleges and universities.

National Offices and Organizations

The education of indigenous students in the United States occurs in multiple settings and is impacted by a range of organizations, including the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, which represents tribally controlled colleges and universities offering remedial, compensatory, and advanced degree programs; the American Indian College Fund, tasked with raising funds for tribal colleges and their students; the Bureau of Indian Education, representing approximately 8 percent of all indigenous students in grades Pre-K–12; the National Congress of American Indians, which includes elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education among its legislative aims; the National Indian Education Association, composed of indigenous educators, parents, families, and students from both public and BIE-operated or -funded schools; the Office of Indian Education, housed within the US Department of Education, which works on behalf of the 92 percent of indigenous students who attend public schools across the United States; and the Tribal Education Departments National Assembly. Each of these organizations is described in brief below.

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