Abstract

American Indian/Alaska Native education – the training for life of children, adolescents, and adults – has been locked in battle for centuries with colonial schooling, which continues to the present day. Settler societies have used schools to “civilize” Indigenous peoples and to train Native peoples in subservience while dispossessing them of land. Schools are the battlegrounds of American Indian education in which epistemologies, ontologies, axiologies, pedagogies, and curricula clash. In the last century, Native nations, communities, parents, and students have fought tenaciously to maintain heritage languages and cultures – their ways of being in the world – through Indigenous education and have demanded radical changes in schools. Contemporary models of how educators are braiding together Indigenous education and Indigenous schooling to better serve Native peoples provide dynamic, productive possibilities for the future.

The history of American Indian education can be summarized in three simple words: battle for power.

–K. Tsianina Lomawaima, 2000

In 1927, Robert “Bob” Carlisle Carr and Curtis “Curt” Thorpe Carr entered Chilocco Indian Agricultural School, a federal boarding school in Oklahoma.1 Bob was ten or eleven years old; Curt was nine. Their mother, Cora Wynema Carr, was a Muskogee (Creek) woman struggling to raise her children in Wichita, Kansas. She was Indian, she was a single mother, and, in those days, that's all it took for the county social workers to declare her incompetent and take her children away. Bob and Curt were Indians, too, of course, which meant they were a federal responsibility, and the local court therefore remanded them to Chilocco. Bob and Curt rebelled against Chilocco's harsh totalitarian regime: Curt joined one of the boys' gangs that organized lives in the outdoor spaces where surveillance did not reach; Bob's behavior became “incorrigible” and he was expelled – no small accomplishment in a system devoted to institutionalizing Indian children. Curt did not see his mother again until he ran away from Chilocco at about age fifteen. By that time, their relationship was irreparably fractured. He survived life on the “hobo road” during the Great Depression, graduating from a high school in Missouri in which the commander of the Civilian Conservation Corps camp took him under his wing. Curt survived World War II and went on to become a loving husband for sixty-seven years and loving father of two daughters. Later in life, he came to appreciate much of Chilocco's training – in carpentry, for example – but he never lost the anger caused by the loss of his mother, family, and childhood. Bob passed away young, at about age twenty-one, while incarcerated in Leavenworth prison.

Many people use the term education interchangeably with schooling, as we might expect when the broad sense of to educate – passing along discrete knowledges and the cultural definition of what counts as useful, important knowledge – coincides with schools' content and practices. For Indigenous peoples, however, Indigenous education and colonial schooling (which includes contemporary U.S. schools) do not coincide. Curt Carr never confused education with schooling. He prized education and was an astonishing self-taught intellectual. He detested Chilocco and remained a lifelong skeptic of the schools. Cora Carr, like many Native parents, wanted both schooling and education for her children. She did not want – nor should she have been expected, let alone forced – to sacrifice one for the other in her struggle to raise her family.

When the United States insists on schooling at the expense of Native education through heritage language, culture, and specific knowledge systems; when curriculum fits hand in glove with land dispossession; and when schooling aims to destroy families and children, we can clearly see schools as a battleground of sovereigns, in which knowledge systems, knowledge production, cultural values, and children's lives are on the line.

What is knowledge and who gets to define it? Contests over knowledge(s) pervade schools. The knowledges that schools engender are considered academic. The products of schools – mathematics, science, writing, and reading – are rooted in the classics or in so-called logical reasoning. Schools exist, in part, to ensure that citizens across regions and the nation share a common knowledge. These knowledges are valued as ways to build a career and to become self-sufficient and contributing citizens. Schooling certainly enables individuals and communities to be more firmly embedded in the larger society. Axiological concerns, however, are at play: Indigenous peoples (and other ethnic, racial, and political communities) value other kinds of knowledges. These different values have led to epistemological clashes, clashes that raise key questions: Which knowledges count? Which systems of transferring knowledge are most effective? What curricular and pedagogical practices work best?

We tackle the following questions, as we tack back and forth between past, present, and future possibilities in Indigenous schooling and education: What is the state of Indigenous education in the United States? What is the state of American Indian students in schools? What history produced these states? How are education and schooling being braided together to chart a pathway into the future that sustains the well-being of Indigenous students, families, and nations?

What is the state of Indigenous education in the United States? Indigenous education includes the systems designed and honed over millennia by Native societies to enculturate their citizens, as well as recent developments of Indigenous curriculum, pedagogies, and policies within schools. We first consider Indigenous education, which has been marginalized, even criminalized, over the past two centuries. For example, colonial schooling has been privileged as formal education, described as organized, systematic, and designed; while Indigenous education has been characterized as informal, unconscious, undirected, and even accidental. Writing in 1902, physician Charles Eastman (Dakota) observed: “It is commonly supposed that there is no systematic education of their children among the aborigines of this country. Nothing could be farther from the truth. All the customs of this primitive people were held to be divinely instituted, and those in connection with the training of children were scrupulously adhered to and transmitted from one generation to another.”2 Indigenous educational systems have always been consciously designed, intentional, sustained, and thus formal, even as they eschew the schooling practices we categorize as formal, such as lecturing, classroom discipline, and standardized testing.

Eastman “flipped the script” on Indigenous peoples, the role of schooling, and the transfer of knowledge across generations. Almost ninety years later, Inupiat scholar Leona Okakok defined education as a powerful Indigenous concept and process: “To me, educating a child means equipping him or her with the capability to succeed in the world he or she will live in.” She made the forcefully political statement that “education is more than book learning, it is also value-learning.”3 Okakok reminds us that education for and by Native peoples adapts and adjusts to a particular time, place, and context. How do Native peoples educate themselves, their children, and grandchildren to succeed in the world in which they will live?

Children need to know something that is relevant to their world and that supports their fundamental ability to thrive. Many Native education systems stress engaging the world, and Okakok has outlined connections to the ways that some schools work: “The students, then, must demonstrate mastery of competencies before they are promoted to the next grade. This approach is similar to our traditional practices in which elders expected children to master certain competencies before they went on to more difficult tasks.” Competencies in Barrow, Alaska (where Okakok lives and teaches), are critical. Competency can be the difference between life and death when managing relationships among peoples, the Arctic Ocean, and polar bears and whales. This view of the world is imbued with humility, cognizant of the arrogance that there is only one way of demonstrating knowledge or only one knowledge that counts. Okakok has concluded that, “we all know that we can go through life convinced that our view of the world is the only valid one. If we are interested in new perceptions, however, we need to catch a glimpse of the world through other eyes. We need to be aware of our own thoughts, as well as the way life is viewed by other people.”4 Okakok has encouraged us to learn from and through others.

What is the state of Indian schooling? Native peoples and U.S. policy-makers began asking this question in the late 1800s, although schools for Indians had been in place for decades. The federal government asserted its right to educate Native people – that is, it asserted its sovereign power to “civilize” in a totalizing transformative way – as soon as the republic was established on Indian lands. In 1802, Congress enacted legislation to civilize the “aborigines” and, in 1819, the Civilization Fund Act authorized federal dollars to underwrite Christian schools and missions. Mission efforts to civilize Indigenous peoples were constrained by Native resistance and lack of resources, and by the mid-nineteenth century, impatient policy-makers and Westward-focused settlers demanded more substantive results.5 The federal government gradually eliminated financial support to missions and began to build its own Indian schools, including on-reservation day schools and boarding schools and off-reservation boarding schools such as Carlisle Indian Industrial School (in existence from 1879–9918).6

Carlisle's superintendent Richard Henry Pratt designed an assimilationist institution to erase Indigenous cultures and incorporate Native individuals into the United States as citizens, hence his infamous quote: “Kill the Indian in him and save the man.” Yet Pratt believed in the capacity of Indian people to excel, given educational opportunities. This view fell out of favor in the early twentieth century as scientific and popular opinion emphasized a hierarchical ladder of the races that privileged Whites. U.S. police powers were mobilized to erase Indian sovereigns and Indigeneity by criminalizing their culture. In that moment, federal powers over Indians crested. Hopi men who refused to enroll their children in federal schools were incarcerated at Alcatraz; Natives who refused to cut their hair were subject to imprisonment and hard labor.

As is so often the case in Indigenous schooling, such pasts connect directly to the present. In 2017, young Native boys are still being punished for their long hair. Four-year-old Jabez Oates was sent home from his Texas school for violating the dress code. The school district's superintendent noted:

Parents have a right to seek an appropriate educational setting for their child, just as Ms. Oates has the right to place her child in a district that reflects her personal expectations for standards of appearance. There are procedures in place for addressing concerns over policy if it is Ms. Oates' desire to have her son educated in Barbers Hill isd. But we would and should justifiably be criticized if our district lessened its expectations or long-standing policies simply to appease.7

Nearly 150 years have passed since Pratt established Carlisle, and it is still the case that expecting a school to respect Native culture and “lessen its expectations for standards of appearance” is called appeasement. The past is the present but we hope not the future of Indigenous schooling.

Until the 1924 American Indian Citizenship Act, Indians had no recourse in the courts, and the courts refused to intervene in the federal political (police) powers controlling Indian Country.8 Policymakers waffled over whether off-reservation or on-reservation schools were the best sites to civilize Indians, but both schooling systems grew dramatically from 1890 to 1920. Colonial federal schools devastated Indigenous children and their communities. Long hair was cut, children were scrubbed with kerosene to kill lice, “home clothes” were locked away in trunks, and government-issue uniforms remade Indian bodies and identities. Future leaders were stolen from their communities, despite students like Bob and Curt Carr resisting such schooling. The peak of boarding school enrollment in the 1930s coincided with the Great Depression, when Native families were desperate to provide adequate housing and food for their children. How did relations among Native peoples and federal/state governments come to such a pass?

U.S.-Indian relations are shaped by principles of sovereignty and trust.9 Inherent sovereignty entails self-government, self-determination, self-education, and autonomy relative to other sovereigns. The trust relationship refers to obligations to Native nations assumed by the federal government over time. Colonial schooling of Indigenous peoples has been embedded in far-ranging contests among sovereigns and shifting concepts of trust. Chief Justice Marshall escalated the contest over educating Indian children in the 1831 case Cherokee Nation v. Georgia. When Marshall proposed that Indians resembled wards, he implied that Native parents/guardians were like children as well, with the federal government acting as the guardian and assuming a trust responsibility to care for them. Marshall's legal fiction – which soon became reality – implicitly stripped Native parents of their right to raise their own children, setting the stage decades later for the removal of children to remote boarding schools absent parental consent. The government claimed that trust responsibilities justified seizing children. Interpretations of federal trust responsibilities can run amok, and implementations of trust have shifted over time.

Many treaties stipulated federal commitments to schooling; the 1868 Navajo Treaty, for example, promised a schoolhouse and teacher for every thirty students. Congress cast those responsibilities aside, however, with 1871 legislation that unilaterally ended treaty-making with Native nations. The federal-Indian trust relationship has been subject to fluctuations that reflect political agendas as well as legalistic interpretations. Federal agents had used trust to justify intervention, even police powers, while colonial schools have explicitly trained Indians in subservience to authority for generations. Native peoples, on the other hand, leverage trust to motivate fulfillment of federal treaties, laws, and commitments, which are constitutionally mandated as the supreme law of the land.

Federal trust responsibilities for schooling American Indians have been further complicated in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries as Native students have increasingly enrolled in public schools.10 The U.S. public schooling infrastructure is a complex system of overlapping, sometimes conflicting, jurisdictions and funding sources: local funding through property taxes; administration by locally elected school boards; state funding and direction of standards; and federal funding and regulation of standards, assessment, and record-keeping. Add to that mix the jurisdictions and interests of Native nations, endeavoring to maintain distinctive languages, religions, land stewardship, economies, and laws – in short, dynamic ways of life – and we begin to see the challenges.

Reverberations of the U.S.-Native battle for power in schools echoed in the early twentieth century, but there was little data to understand what was happening. Systematic data collection and analysis about Indian schooling began in the early twentieth century, capped by the 1928 publication of The Problem of Indian Administration (known as the Meriam Report), an assessment of the work of the Office of Indian Affairs (later the Bureau of Indian Affairs). The report scathingly critiqued many aspects of mission and federal schooling, particularly boarding schools. The conclusions of the Meriam survey team remain telling: schools underserved children, emphasizing repetitive, menial labor over academics; and children suffered harsh discipline, malnutrition, physical abuse, and emotional impoverishment. The Meriam Report advocated for a curriculum including culture and tribal histories; locally embedded schools; enhanced financial support; more expansive adult education; and more humane early childhood education. Nearly ninety years later, similar calls for action remain.11

In the aftermath of the Meriam Report, policy shifts opened some windows of opportunity for Native self-government and self-determination, even as Indian schools frequently reinforced paternalism and treated Natives as wards. On the one hand, Bureau of Indian Affairs (bia) schools developed bilingual readers and transitional bilingual programs in the 1940s; on the other hand, non-Native linguists, teachers, and administrators directed those efforts. Policy-makers advocated for local relevance of schooling, but then decreed that relevant meant vocational, not academic, training. As a consequence, Native students and parents mobilized walkouts and vigorous protests when off-reservation boarding high schools were stripped of accreditation. The shift of student enrollment from federal to public schools swelled in the 1940s and continued over time, motivated by federal actions to divest trust responsibility and delegate jurisdiction to the states, increasing urbanization and Native dissatisfaction with federal schools. In 2017, 90 percent of school-age Indian children attended public schools.

Scholarship outlines the current state of American Indian schooling in the United States, and achievement data provide one perspective on that state.12 The data have been called into question by important advocacy groups, including the National Congress of American Indians (ncai) and the National Indian Education Association (niea). The ncai and niea do not believe that the data are incorrect; rather, the problem is that there are so few data, with few baseline data sets to inform researchers and policy-makers. If the data are so sparse as to be suspect, how can we measure progress or identify places for improvement? How can we establish policies to address or understand concerns if we are unsure of the validity of the concerns?

Data uncertainty has been called the problem of the asterisk.13 When data are sparse, or when few Indigenous students are reported in sample sizes, Indigenous peoples are placed under an asterisk with a note that data are insufficient to make reasonable claims. This structural implication of how data are collected can be addressed. Some policy-makers might argue that oversampling is prohibitive in terms of people power or expenses, or they may argue it is unnecessary. We argue that U.S. dismissal of citizens grouped under the asterisk is unacceptable. Through the trust relationship, the federal government has asserted responsibility for schooling American Indians, believing that schools were the appropriate institution to Americanize American Indians. In recent decades, the imperative to civilize Indians has been somewhat blunted by Native nations exercising sovereign rights to educate their own children, and by demands that schools better serve Native children, families, and communities. Honoring the responsibilities of the trust relationship, it is unacceptable to dismiss peoples as asterisks or data and data analyses as statistically insignificant. We must call for more systematic, defensible data collection and analyses. In the meantime, and with this caveat, we offer a brief overview of data that we believe are technically sound, if quantitatively insufficient.

Tables 1 and 2 highlight a disturbing trend. American Indians' grade 4 reading scores rose by one point over fifteen years under two presidents, multiple secretaries of education, and educational policies aimed at “leaving no child behind.” For all racialized groups, this is the lowest score, reminiscent of the achievement of Native children one hundred years earlier. A similar phenomenon is evident in grade 8, with only a two-point gain over the same period. We question why the scores have stagnated, and are deeply concerned that the stagnation continues. It is clear to us that calls for assimilation for Native students have failed; Native children fight assimilation in schools every day. There is overwhelming evidence that Native students who excel in school are often also well-educated as tribal peoples.14

Table 1

National Assessment of Education Progress Reading Scores, Grade 4, 2000–2015

200020022003200520072009201120132015
American Indian/Alaska 204 207 202 204 203 204 202 205 205 
Native Asian/Pacific Islander 229 224 226 229 232 235 235 235 239 
Black 191 199 198 200 203 205 205 206 206 
Hispanic 197 201 200 203 205 205 206 207 208 
White 225 229 229 229 231 230 231 232 232 
200020022003200520072009201120132015
American Indian/Alaska 204 207 202 204 203 204 202 205 205 
Native Asian/Pacific Islander 229 224 226 229 232 235 235 235 239 
Black 191 199 198 200 203 205 205 206 206 
Hispanic 197 201 200 203 205 205 206 207 208 
White 225 229 229 229 231 230 231 232 232 

Source: National Assessment of Educational Progress, “The Nation's Report Card: Reading Assessments, 2015,” https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/reading_math_2015/#reading/scores?grade=4.

Table 2

National Assessment of Education Progress Reading Scores, Grade 8, 1998–8015*

199820022003200520072009201120132015
American Indian/Alaska Native  250 246 249 247 251 252 251 252 
Asian/Pacific Islander 264 267 270 271 271 274 275 280 280 
Black 244 245 244 243 245 246 249 250 248 
Hispanic 243 247 245 246 247 249 252 256 253 
White 270 272 272 271 272 273 274 276 274 
199820022003200520072009201120132015
American Indian/Alaska Native  250 246 249 247 251 252 251 252 
Asian/Pacific Islander 264 267 270 271 271 274 275 280 280 
Black 244 245 244 243 245 246 249 250 248 
Hispanic 243 247 245 246 247 249 252 256 253 
White 270 272 272 271 272 273 274 276 274 

Reporting standards not met.

*

NAEP data for grade 8 reading were not available for all students in 2000. Source: National Assessment of Educational Progress, “The Nation's Report Card: Reading Assessments, 2015,” https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/reading_math_2015/#reading/scores?grade=8.

We are optimistic and encouraged by the rise in test scores in mathematics (see Tables 3 and 4). Over the same fifteen-year period, grades 4 and 8 saw significant changes in scores. A closer examination, however, raises some concerns. Major changes occurred between 2000 and 2003, and after 2003, the gains were minimal, with only a four-point rise between 2003 and 2015. What happened in that initial three-year period and what failed to happen in the following twelve? It appears that achievement gains, as measured by these tests, are not hopeful; but the challenges confronting Indigenous academic achievement are not fifteen years old. Limited achievement gains over the short term point not to incapacity, but to long-term, structural damages to capacity, which have been centuries in the making. Given this history, some may ask: Is there any hope? Are there any answers? Are there places of success? We believe the future for Indigenous children and communities can – and should – be filled with hope and promise.

Table 3

National Assessment of Education Progress Scores in Mathematics, Grade 4, 2000–2015

20002003200520072009201120132015
American Indian/Alaska Native 208 223 226 228 225 225 227 227 
Asian/Pacific Islander  246 251 253 255 256 258 257 
Black 203 216 220 222 222 224 224 224 
Hispanic 208 222 226 227 227 229 231 230 
White 234 243 246 248 248 249 250 248 
20002003200520072009201120132015
American Indian/Alaska Native 208 223 226 228 225 225 227 227 
Asian/Pacific Islander  246 251 253 255 256 258 257 
Black 203 216 220 222 222 224 224 224 
Hispanic 208 222 226 227 227 229 231 230 
White 234 243 246 248 248 249 250 248 

Reporting standards not met. Source: National Assessment of Educational Progress, “The Nation's Report Card: Reading Assessments, 2015,” https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/reading_math_2015/#mathematics?grade=4.

Table 4

National Assessment of Education Progress Scores in Mathematics, Grade 8, 2000–2015

20002003200520072009201120132015
American Indian/Alaska Native 259 263 264 264 266 265 269 267 
Asian/Pacific Islander 288 291 295 297 301 303 306 306 
Black 244 252 255 260 261 262 263 260 
Hispanic 253 259 262 265 266 270 272 270 
White 284 288 289 291 293 293 294 292 
20002003200520072009201120132015
American Indian/Alaska Native 259 263 264 264 266 265 269 267 
Asian/Pacific Islander 288 291 295 297 301 303 306 306 
Black 244 252 255 260 261 262 263 260 
Hispanic 253 259 262 265 266 270 272 270 
White 284 288 289 291 293 293 294 292 

Source: National Assessment of Educational Progress, “The Nation's Report Card: Reading Assessment, 2015,” https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/reading_math_2015/#mathematics?grade=8.

How are education and schooling being braided together to help build and sustain the well-being of Indigenous students, families, and nations? We present three sites emblematic of a hopeful, meaningful future in Indigenous education and schooling.

Calcedeaver Elementary School sits almost thirty-seven miles north of Mobile, Alabama. Of the 250 students at the school, 87 percent are members of the mowa Band of Choctaw Indians.15 Ninety percent of Calcedeaver's students qualify for free or reduced lunch, and yet the school received a Dispelling the Myth award from the Education Trust.16 As we noted earlier, academic achievement for American Indian children is among the lowest of all students, but at Calcedeaver, 100 percent of students met the math standards for Alabama and 91 percent met standards for reading (79 percent at an advanced level). The school building reflects the heritage of its students: “We wanted people to know that when they pull up at Calcedeaver and walk in the building, that this is a school that has a high population of Native American students.”17 The school embraces the local culture, holds its students to high expectations, makes connections to their local lives, and envisions a great future for their children. At Calcedeaver, leaders and teachers are products of the school and community, demonstrating positive outcomes when local capacity is maximized and staff and community work together to braid the local culture with high academic standards.18 Calcedeaver thrives on its locality, without being provincial. The students understand that it is their school and see themselves as academic achievers. Ninety-one percent of the students graduate from high school.

In Flagstaff, Arizona, the trilingual Puente de Hózhó Elementary School (PdH) offers English, Spanish, and English-Navajo immersion programs. The school is adorned with a mural painted by the famed artist Shonto Begaye.19 Puente de Hózhó translates loosely to “Bridge of Beauty” (Spanish puente meaning bridge, Navajo hózhó meaning beauty) and signals the school's commitment to braid education and schooling. Students are first immersed in either Navajo or Spanish, with a gradual move to English over time. One of the remarkable stories of PdH is that its students, representing all walks of life, have outperformed many state schools in Arizona on third-grade tests. That achievement is remarkable when we consider that the tests are administered in English, while the curriculum at PdH is offered in either Navajo or Spanish. On the Navajo side, teachers work closely with the school district to develop and administer assessments in English and Navajo. The innovative Navajo assessments do not simply translate English assessments; rather, they demonstrate that students are thinking in Navajo. The students can speak with their Navajo-speaking grandparents and excel on English standardized tests.20

Principal Dawn Trubakoff tells a profound story of PdH's success. One winter, a Navajo woman came into the school asking to put her child on the school's waiting list. The secretary asked her the sex of her child, and she replied, “I don't know.” Perplexed, the secretary asked, “Is it a boy or a girl?” The woman opened her winter coat and replied, “My baby hasn't been born yet.”21 When education and schooling honor language and culture and assist children to perform at high academic levels, parents will want to send their children to school. Braiding education and schooling is possible; it is local, contextual, and addresses the needs of the community and its children.

The final example is located 158 miles south of Flagstaff in Tempe, Arizona. The Arizona State University (ASH) Pueblo Doctoral Cohort illustrates how education and schooling can also be braided at the graduate level.22 In the spring of 2011, two asu faculty members linked efforts with colleagues at the Leadership Institute (li) at Santa Fe Indian School in New Mexico. By the fall of 2012, ten students began a doctoral program that was customized around ten critical areas. The critical areas were identified through ten years of work by the LI, the nineteen Pueblos of New Mexico, thirty-five Indigenous think tank sessions, and mixed-methods research projects. ASU built a program, rooted in tribal nation-building, that sought to respond to the needs of the Pueblos as defined by the Pueblos.23 Coursework included fifty-four hours of classes: encompassing both traditional doctoral studies courses (such as quantitative methods) as well as courses focused on the needs of Pueblo communities (such as Indigenous Knowledge Systems). In addition to dissertations, students wrote policy briefs addressing a challenge in their communities; all the briefs – written in 2015 – have been enacted in some way by 2017. The students' doctoral research addressed community needs. In 2015, ten students in the program graduated with the Ph.D. (see Image 1). A second cohort began in fall 2015, with expected graduation dates of 2018 to 2019.

Image 1

May 2015 Graduation of First Pueblo Doctoral Cohort at Arizona State University: (left to right) Professor Elizabeth Sumida Huaman, June Lorenzo, Richard Luarkie, Anthony Dorame, Carnell Chosa, Michele Suina, Shawn Abeita, Kenneth Lucero, Corrine Sanchez, Vince Lujan, Mark Ericson, Professor Bryan Brayboy

Image 1

May 2015 Graduation of First Pueblo Doctoral Cohort at Arizona State University: (left to right) Professor Elizabeth Sumida Huaman, June Lorenzo, Richard Luarkie, Anthony Dorame, Carnell Chosa, Michele Suina, Shawn Abeita, Kenneth Lucero, Corrine Sanchez, Vince Lujan, Mark Ericson, Professor Bryan Brayboy

These successful models do not offer silver-bullet answers to all the challenges of Indigenous education and schooling, but they help us stretch our thinking beyond best practices to principles of promising practices. The models are guided by common principles that are local and rooted in context; honor language and culture within the schooling practice; explicitly state the possibility and necessity of achieving successful schooling practices without sacrificing ties to language and culture; set high expectations in both schooling and education; believe in possibilities for the student; and remain committed to justice.

Narratives of schooling often privilege individual achievement. Achievement is important, but this single measure erases the role of history and the impacts of systems and structures on American Indian students. We must look beyond the metric of achievement to question taken-for-granted notions and ideologies about what schooling should be. The long-term battle for power has been rooted, in part, in the goal of the assimilation of individual Native students, while the structures established to assimilate have created a systemic effect. Assimilation, a focus on specific kinds of knowledges (devoid of the culture of tribal communities), and individualism have become embedded into the fabric of schooling. Engagement with communities and their cultures, listening to communities and their children, honoring the place on which the school sits, and recognizing different ways of knowing (and being and valuing as well as teaching and learning) are keys to a successful connection between schooling and education in the future.

Lomawaima's epigraphic reference to American Indian education as a “battle for power” contextualizes what it takes to achieve justice in Indigenous education and schooling: the sovereign rights to define knowledge and to educate citizens. Assimilationist agendas are still with us, and so battles lie ahead, yet to be fought. Native nations, communities, and citizens must be able to engage in futures of their own making. We do battle now to create possibilities so that generations from now, scholars are no longer rehashing the findings of the Meriam Report or lamenting the failures of the early twenty-first century.

ENDNOTES

1

Curtis Thorpe Carr (1918–8012) was K. Tsianina Lomawaima's father.

2

Charles Eastman, Indian Boyhood (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1991), 49.

3

Leona Okakok, “Serving the Purpose of Education,” Harvard Educational Review 59 (4) (1989): 253–354, 405–522.

4

Ibid., 262, 248, 405–522.

5

The Bureau of Indian Affairs was established in 1824 under the Department of War. Part of the bia's mission was to administer the annuity from the Fund.

6

In a few locales, Native children were enrolled in public schools in the 1800s. Regions of the South with Native populations after Removal developed tripartite systems of segregated White, Black, and Indian schools. In most parts of the country, public school enrollment was not an option until after World War II.

7

Cristina Silva, “War on Boys with Long Hair? Texas Child Sent Home from School over Hairstyle,” Newsweek, August 22, 2017, http://www.newsweek.com/texas-boy-sent-home-school-over-long-hair-653581.

8

Two Supreme Court cases in the 1910s clearly stated that for Indians, wardship and citizenship are not incompatible. U.S. birthright citizenship conveyed access to the courts, but did little to curtail federal powers.

9

See Vine Deloria Jr. and Clifford Lytle, The Nations Within: The Past and Future of American Indian Sovereignty (New York: Pantheon Books, 1984); and David E. Wilkins and K. Tsianina Lomawaima, Uneven Ground: American Indian Sovereignty and Federal Indian Law (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001).

10

In Jill Feury DeVoe, Kristen E. Darling-Churchill, and Thomas D. Snyder, Status and Trends in the Education of American Indians and Alaska Natives: 2008 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education and National Center for Education Statistics, 2008). The National Center for Education Statistics notes that 7 percent of American Indian children attend Bureau of Indian Education schools, 90 percent attend public schools, and 3 percent attend parochial or independent private schools.

11

See Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy, Susan C. Faircloth, Tiffany S. Lee, et al., “Sovereignty and Education: An Overview of the Unique Nature of Indigenous Education,” Journal of American Indian Education 54 (1) (2015); The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, “Executive Order 13592 – Improving American Indian and Alaska Native Educational Opportunities and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities,” December 2, 2011, https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2011/12/02/executive-order-13592-improving-american-indian-and-alaska-native-educat; and National Congress of American Indians, “Education,” http://www.ncai.org/policy-issues/education-health-human-services/education#FTN_2.

12

Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy and Margaret J. Maaka, “K–12 Achievement for Indigenous Students,” Journal of American Indian Education 54 (1) (2015): 63–38; ncai Policy Research Center, Higher Education Workforce Development: Leveraging Tribal Investments to Advance Community Goals (Washington, D.C.: National Congress of American Indians, 2012); National Indian Education Association, “Information on Native Students,” http://www.niea.org/our-story/history/information-on-native-students/ (accessed August 12, 2017); A. M. Ninneman, James Deaton, and Karen Francis-Begay, National Indian Education Study 2015 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education and National Center for Education Statistics, 2017); The Education Trust, The State of Education for Native Students (Washington, D.C.: The Education Trust, 2013), http://edtrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/NativeStudentBrief_0.pdf; and Elise Trumbull, Ursula Sexton, Sharon Nelson-Barber, and Zannette Johnson, “Assessment Practices in Schools Serving American Indian and Alaska Native Students,” Journal of American Indian Education 54 (3) (2015): 5–50. Note that the NAEP data contain inconsistencies across groups. Achievement and test scores should not be conflated with the future potential of Native or other minority children.

13

Heather Shotton, Shelly Lowe, and Stephanie Waterman, Beyond the Asterisk: Understanding Native Students in Higher Education (Sterling, Va.: Stylus, 2013).

14

See Angelina E. Castagno and Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy, “Culturally Responsive Schooling for Indigenous Youth: A Review of the Literature,” Review of Educational Research 78 (4) (2008): 941–193; and Mark J. Van Ryzin and Claudia G. Vincent, “Use of Native Language and Culture (NLC) in Elementary and Middle School Instruction as a Predictor of Mathematics Achievement,” Journal of American Indian Education 56 (2) (2017): 3–33.

15

The MOWA band of Choctaw Indians takes their name from the first two letters of Mobile and Washington counties in Alabama. The state formally recognized the group in 1979, but the federal government has not. See Jacqueline Anderson Matt, “MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians,” Encyclopedia of Alabama, October 10, 2007, http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-1368.

16

The Education Trust, “DTM: Calcedeaver Elementary School,” June 5, 2015, https://edtrust.org/resource/dtm-calcedeaver-elementary-school/.

17

Nicole Williams quoted in Alyson Stokes, “‘One of a Kind’ Calcedeaver Elementary School Opens,” Lagniappe Weekly, January 7, 2015, http://lagniappemobile.com/one-kind-calcedeaver-elementary-school-opens/.

18

Corey Mitchell, “Lessons from a ‘Hidden Gem’ in Alabama,” Education Week, September 27, 2016, http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2016/09/28/lessons-from-a-hidden-gem-in-alabama.html.

19

Shonto Begay, whose paintings sell for as much as $10,000, painted the mural with the school's children.

20

Teresa McCarty, “The Role of Native Languages and Cultures in American Indian/Alaska Native Student Achievement: The Puente de Hózhó Case Study,” policy brief (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Indian Education, 2010).

21

Authors' conversation with Teresa L. McCarty and Kristen Silver, 2010.

22

The cohort's work is published in two anthologies, coedited by the principal investigators. See Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy and Elizabeth Sumida Huaman, “A Journey to Higher Education: Origins of an Indigenous Doctoral Program,” Journal of American Indian Education 55 (3) (2016); and Elizabeth Sumida Huaman and Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy, eds., Indigenous Innovations in Higher Education: Local Knowledge and Critical Research (Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers, 2017).

23

For tribal nation-building in higher education, see Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy, Amy J. Fann, Angelina E. Castagno, and Jessica A. Solyom, Post-secondary Education for American Indian and Alaska Natives: Higher Education for Nation Building and Self-Determination (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2012).

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