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Joining the Circle
A Practitioner's Guide to Responsive Education for Native Students


Agnes Grant and LaVina Gillespie


Table of Contents


The authors would like to thank the many graduates of Native teacher training programs in Manitoba, who have greatly influenced the content of this monograph. They are rapidly becoming leaders in changing educational practices for Native children today. We thank them for the many hours of debate, discussion, and dreaming that have taken place over the years.

Editor's Preface

It has been my pleasure during the past year and a half to correspond with Agnes Grant and La Vina Gillespie as they crafted this monograph. Grant's work was well known to the Clearinghouse even before this work. A professor at Brandon University in Manitoba, Canada, she has educated Native students at the postsecondary level for 20 years and has been a regular contributor to the ERIC database. La Vina Gillespie, a member of the Cree Tribe, has taught Native students at the elementary level for many years.

The two of them bring a perspective that is grounded not only in Native scholarship and educational research and theory, but also in their daily lives as teachers. Their expression of the issues surrounding Native education is straightforward. There were times when I, as a well-meaning White person, found what they had to say hard to take. But the conditions the authors describe are real and common throughout North America-from villages in Alaska, to fishing communities in Manitoba, to reservations and urban centers in the lower 48 states. The conditions attest to what happens to a people when others try to cut them off at their cultural roots. Grant and Gillespie give us much to think about both about how things have been done in the past, and how they must be done differently in the future.

A few words are needed about the terminology used for describing various ethnic groups in this guide. The ERIC system uses the upper case for all references to racial groups, including Black and White; we have followed those guidelines. However, the ERIC system also uses the term, "American Indian," which some Canadians consider inaccurate, and which these Canadian authors did not use. They did use the term "aboriginal," which is not commonly used in the United States. For this monograph, we at the Clearinghouse made the not-wholly-satisfactory editorial decision to use the terms "Native" and "Native American" to encompass all of the indigenous groups of North America. We hope that our Canadian readers will not feel excluded in this usage.

Finally, there are several people the authors and I would like to thank. Velma Mitchell, Carla McClure, Kari Pomeroy, Phyllis StowersSara Stricker, and Carolyn Luzader were all involved in the production of the manuscript in various capacities. Susan Voelkel produced the annotated bibliography of materials available through the ERIC system. Thank you for your care and attention to detail, as always.

Patricia Cahape

The Legacy of Eurocentrism

Now we shall not rest until we have regained our rightful place. We shall tell our young people what we know. We shall send them to the corners of the earth to learn more. They shall lead us.

-Declaration of the Five County Cherokees of Oklahoma, 1966 (Maxwell et al., 1978)

Often, the term "culture" is associated only with ethnic groups and ethnic qualities. The fact of the matter is that culture exists everywhere and often in places where it is not thought to exist. The American public school system, for example, has a culture that has been perpetuated for generations. Each school has its own subculture. The subculture of a given school can be observed in its dress code, rules for behavior, language, grades, attitudes, and even diet. Overwhelmingly, the cultures of schools reflect the norms of middleclass European-Americans.

Success in school is largely determined by how well students cope within this culture. Many Native young fail to adapt. The result of their inability or unwillingness to comply with the school subculture is that they are perceived as unacceptable and are often labeled as handicapped, learning disabled, limited-English-proficient, and, most damaging of a11, uneducable. In many schools the process whereby this social relegation takes place is highly formalized. Played out across a whole continent, the process has deprived Native people of a sound educational system. Depressing statistics on poor attendance, high dropout rates, and poor achievement scores indicate the extent of the deprivation.

For too long, the methods and curriculum materials used to educate Native youth in America's schools have lacked even a simple acknowledgement of the ongoing Native presence in this country. Also unacknowledged have been the many contributions made by Natives to mainstream society (Weatherford, 1991). The effects of such instruction are highly visible in withered Native souls: the nation's lowest life expectancy; the lowest annual income; and the highest rates of suicide, alcoholism, infant mortality, unemployment, and tuberculosis (Spindler, 1987). In spite of their increasing numbers, Native Americans are still underrepresented in government, institutions of higher education, professional positions, and more affluent housing areas. The statistical evidence demonstrates the need for both Native and non-Native educators to reexamine their mainstream teaching methods, materials, and attitudes in order that they may offer more suitable programs for America's Native youth.

This monograph examines what historical decisions and policies have led us to this point and the European-American cultural values that have formed the underpinning for those policies. The monograph then explores the still prevalent racist stereotypes and prejudices that operate in mainstream society, including its schools. Finally, the monograph explores what research and practice have shown to be better ways and describes resources readily available to educators interested in joining with their students and their students' families to chart new directions in Native education.

The Policy of Assimilation

The story begins in 1869 with the "peace policy" of President Ulysses Grant following the Civil War, which provided for the establishment of missions and schools on Indian reservations. Off reservation boarding schools were also established to remove children from the cultural influences of community and family (Kidwell, 1985; Persson, 1986; Mallea, 1989). Indian children were immersed in the culture of the dominant society and educated in its language and values. The power of language as a cultural determinant was well understood; and untold harm was done, and continues to be felt by Native populations all over North America, as the result of policies that discredited their languages and forbade their use. Teachers became authority figures and the schools had the power of life or death over Native cultures and languages. Disclosures by contemporary Native people indicate the extent of physical, psychological, and sexual abuse that occurred as well (Jordon, 1988, Flood, 1990).

The schools emphasized vocational training, thus serving to perpetuate the position of Indians at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale. Boys received training as farm laborers and girls as domestics. Though they were indoctrinated with the values of individual land ownership, few ever reached a point where they could acquire land, had they desired to do so.

Assimilation was also the motive in 1953 when the Provisions of Concurrent Resolution 108 were adopted. This legislation endorsed the relocation of Native Americans into large white centers such as Chicago, Denver, and Los Angeles, where it was hoped they would lose their culture and language since they would be removed from the source.

Efforts designed to bring about equality for Natives by assimilating them into the mainstream culture continue. Fully two-thirds of America's Natives are trained in institutions that still promote value assimilation (Maxwell, et al. 1978; Josephy Jr. 1991). Native children are routinely taught to reject their language and culture, and they receive instruction delivered mainly in English, even in areas where it is not the dominant language. Native languages are devalued, as is demonstrated in the ongoing campaign to make English the only official language of many states, as well as to amend the U.S. Constitution to prohibit the use of other languages (Brandt & Ayoungman, 1989).

This policy of assimilation sets teachers apart from students, leaving both teachers and students handicapped. Teachers in such circumstances deliver the content of textbooks without ever tapping community resources. They reduce their effectiveness through a lack of curiosity about the communities they serve, employing curriculum and teaching strategies that reflect their genuine ignorance of their students' culturally-derived learning strengths, while sending a message that students' interests and culture are of little value. This can lead to what appears to community members to be antagonism toward their cultural heritage.

Historical Disinformation

In reality, strong antagonisms to Native American culture persist. Some prominent scholars continue to argue that nothing positive existed in the Native past. In 1990, Clifton asserted that pursuing the notion of anything positive in the Native past is entirely wrongheaded. He implies that the rightful role of scholarship is to assist in the process of cultural annihilation. The quincentennial of Columbus, he maintained, should be a year when we restrain the general public from being bamboozled through guilt or remorse into assisting Native people in bettering their lot. He suggested that 1992 should be the year in which the vanishing Native finally vanishes once and for all.

In contrast to Clifton's argument, Weatherford (1991) suggests that, because we have neglected our Native past, we share in Columbus's folly of not knowing where we are. To understand our heritage and our society, we must look at our own bedrock of ancient North American civilization-that which was established by the Choctaws, Seminoles, Dakotas, Navajos, Kiowas, Menominees, and so on. And only after studying our beginnings, our indigenous roots, according to Weatherford, will we truly appreciate the vigorous hybrid civilization of the United States of America.

Brown (1970), in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, points out that Columbus wrote to the King and Queen of Spain that "there is not in the world a better nation" (p.1). Columbus described the indigenous people as "peaceable, tractable, neighborly," having manners that were "decorous and praiseworthy" (p.1).Brown goes on to say, "All this, of course, was taken as a sign of weakness, if not heathenism, and Columbus, being a righteous European, was convinced the people should be 'made to work, sow and do all that is necessary to adopt our ways"' (pp. 1-2). Over the next five centuries (1492-1980), several million Europeans and their descendants undertook to en-force assimilation upon the people of the new world.

In his introduction, Brown warns that his is not a cheerful book. History from the Native perspective may disturb European-American readers as they recognize that the myth of ruthless savages has obscured a people with deeply held spiritual beliefs that were rooted in a relationship with the land. Suppression of such beliefs and the things valued by Natives were in the nature of conquest.

Clifton's view, on the other hand, supports those writers who believe that Eurocentric attitudes are natural, accepted, and integral strands in the fabric of this society and its institutions. The prevailing perspective expressed in the educational system is that anything significant in American history or culture was done or created by Whites of European descent. For example, it is said that Henry Rowe Schoolcraft discovered the source of the Mississippi River in July 1832. For the Indians who lived at Lake Itasca for thousands of years, the lake was obviously not "lost" or "undiscovered." They knew the lake well under another name. Schoolcraft discovered the source of the Mississippi only because an Ojibwa chief guided him and his small expedition to the site (Weatherford, 1991).

The Teacher's Dilemma

Teachers, who have themselves been educated to believe that Native Americans lacked a culture of their own and needed to be civilized by the Europeans, are not in a good position-without additional learning-to teach their Native students respectfully or with an appreciation for Native heritages. Teachers with Eurocentric attitudes trying to teach Native students could be compared to the agriculturally untrained trying to raise a crop. At best, such teachers offer condescending sympathy-a response to Native students that can be as stultifying to growth as overt disrespect.

Unfortunately, even some Native teachers can have a stultifying effect on Native students. Considering the prominence that is given to the European perspective in the way we teach history, it is no wonder that some Natives who graduate from colleges and universities adopt assimilationist attitudes. These Native Americans return to their communities and may appear to their neighbors as specially packaged "White" teachers and administrators. Often they are them-selves the product of the boarding school system and thus have not overcome the fear, humiliation, and self-hatred so often instilled by that system. Consciously or unconsciously they operate from the belief that the only road to success lies in emulating the system in which they received their training. Such Native graduates retain their Native physical characteristics but employ the same debilitating teaching methods by which they were taught years earlier. They, too, adopt rigid schedules and harsh disciplinary practices and tell their students that English is the language to learn and, perhaps un-wittingly, give the impression that the old ways and culture are best forgotten.

The fallacy of assimilationist education is not inherent in the race of the messenger, but in the message itself: That Native culture is unworthy of respect and, therefore, it logically follows that the children and grandchildren of the people who developed and continue to perpetuate that culture are unworthy as well.

School Failure as a Form of Resistance

In his book Theory and Resistance in Education, Henry Giroux (1983) criticizes theorists for their failure to examine the production and reproduction of culture in minority schooling. Not seeing schools as important cultural and political sites is, in Giroux's view, a serious oversight. Giroux posits that minorities do not succeed in the public school system because they resist the dominant culture and reject institutions that render them invisible or devalue their heritage. Giroux argues that resistance is essential for initiating change. When minorities resist, individuals must pay attention to what schools are offering and compare that to what should be offered instead.

Giroux concludes that a new theoretical framework should be developed, one that takes into account all of the individuals involved in the structures of education. This framework would allow a reexamination of schools as social sites, beginning with hegemonic views of culture in the curriculum. Most significantly, scholars would reexamine schooling from the viewpoint of subordinate groups.

Native children come from homes and communities where the cultural expectations and values are different from, and discontinuous with, those held by mainstream society, according to studies conducted by Fuchs and Havighurst (1983). Our own experience and observations as teachers and teacher educators are consistent with this conclusion. Native students confront a dilemma. They must decide to which cultural belief system they will pledge their allegiance: the one they have learned from their community or the one promoted by the public school system. Choosing the former usually means falling further and further behind and eventually leaving school. Choosing the latter can lead to serious self-destructive behaviors of chemical addiction, violence, abuse-all typical responses of a societal group coping with cultural discontinuity (York, 1989).

But cultural discontinuity is not the only dilemma facing Native students. The lack of respect for Native culture and the misinterpretation of Native student resistance to school culture has led to widespread, often institutionalized, racism and prejudice.

Prejudice and Stereotyping

McDiarmid and Pratt, in their ground-breaking work, Teaching Prejudice (1971), asked the very important question, "Can attitudes be taught? They concluded that attitudes not only can be taught, they are taught" (p.1). They pointed out that some attitudes imparted by parents have few social consequences but "there are other attitudes that can have far-reaching effects on our lives. For example, the ones we develop toward people, or groups of people" (p. 2).

Since Teaching Prejudice was published, considerable scholarship has addressed the issues of prejudice and bias and the damage it does to both the perpetrators and the victims. To avoid this kind of damage, all teachers-Native and non-Native-need to be continually alert to the presence of prejudice. Teachers should check for signs of prejudice, especially in its covert forms, in their own attitudes, in the materials they use, in the ideas held by the children they teach, and in the community-at-large.

Bias in the Curriculum. For a person from within a minority culture, recognition of bias against that culture often comes naturally and quickly. Native teachers often reject teaching materials without being able, or bothering, to explain why. It is important, however, for these teachers to increase their awareness of the perniciousness of biased and stereotypical materials as they move into positions that require them to choose materials and to defend their choices.

Other teachers from minority groups accept materials that are biased against their group, or other groups, deciding to overlook the biases. Lacking relevant, up-to-date material, these teachers continue to use the same biased textbooks they read while they were students. Some of these teachers have been so indoctrinated with biased materials that they have come to believe what they read as the truth about themselves. Others simply "tune out" the inaccurate material as they have learned to do throughout their educational histories. Native teachers who for any of these reasons accept biased materials need increased awareness and skill in identifying bias or they will be as guilty as anyone in perpetuating stereotypes. Their acceptance of the biased materials can do even more damage to children since an "outside" teacher will never be viewed as a personal role model in the same way as a person from within the culture will be.

Social studies materials. The work of McDiarmid and Pratt focused on social studies materials used in the province of Ontario, Canada. Rather than examine what was presented, they examined how it was presented. Point of view, of course, is of paramount importance and most educators today understand that school systems primarily present a middle-class, European-American colonial point of view, even in contemporary materials. Even where a writer attempts to present a different point of view, certain writing practices can lead to biased material, however inadvertently.

McDiarmid and Pratt assigned values to connectors and common meaning terms to show that choice of words can influence the attitudes taught. "To be," "to cause," and "to make" are strong terms, denoting power and control. "To be said to be" or "to be described as" are weaker terms and "to fight," "to correct," or "to seem not to be" are usually negative terms (p. 38).

Students will learn different attitudes from the following statements:

  1. Plains tribes hunted on the great central plains of this continent; and
  2. Plains tribes are said to have hunted on the great central plains of this continent.

Common-meaning terms frequently found in history books were given numerical values by McDiarmid and Pratt. Glorious, heroic, and saintly, for example, were given a +3 value; civilized, hardworking and wise were given a +2 value; devout, thrifty, and zealous were given a +1 value. Other words received negative values: cunning, desperate, hostile, primitive, barbaric, bloodthirsty, and massacre ranged from -1 to -3. It becomes evident quickly that history books are usually full of biases based on the author's point of view.

McDiarmid and Pratt also examined pictures and illustrations for the role they play in perpetuating stereotypes. They reached the conclusion that pictures are likely to have a greater impact on learners' attitudes than the written word (pp. 51, 52). They examined illustrations for occupations of the people portrayed, personal appearance, non-Western dress and implied relationships. The most common pictorial stereotype in contemporary material is the portrayal of Native people in historic settings. Children cannot form an understanding about Native people as contributing members of contemporary society, as human beings with needs and desires similar to their own, when there is only limited historical portrayal.

Non-Western dress is common in illustrations of Native powwow paraphernalia or Natives participating in spiritual ceremonies. Though these are both important aspects of Native culture, they are not the only activities in which Native people participate. Children also need to be exposed to the daily lives of Native people, which do not differ dramatically from the daily lives of other cultural groups.

McDiarmid and Pratt developed schemes and charts to assist in evaluating materials objectively. This pioneering work was adapted by the Manitoba Indian Brotherhood (MIB) to examine Grade 6 social studies textbooks. The Shocking Truth About Indians in Textbooks (n.d.) details the methods used by the Brotherhood and clearly demonstrates that children in Manitoba, Canada, were being taught biased information that glorified the accomplishments of settlers while denigrating Native inhabitants.

The MIB researchers identified 10 kinds of biases commonly found in school materials. The following categories are taken from The Shocking Truth About Indians in Textbooks (pp. ia, iia) as is the definition of each category. We have provided examples taken from our own experiences:

  1. Bias by omission-selecting information that reflects credit on only one group, frequently the writer's or speaker's group. Example:the omission of Native people from both historic and contemporary material. North American history is taught as beginning with European colonizers; contemporary Native people and their contributions are not part of mainstream consciousness.
  2. Bias by defamation-calling attention to the Native person's faults rather than virtues and misrepresenting the nature of Native people. Example:the teacher who says "Indian children are shy" without considering the role the teacher is playing in maintaining the children in their "shy" role.
  3. Bias by disparagement-denying or belittling the contribution of Native people to mainstream culture. Example:the teacher who does not involve Native parents in school activities but then alleges that Native parents do not value an education for their children.
  4. Bias by cumulative implication-constantlycreating the impression that only one group is responsible for positive development. Example:The United States prides itself in being a "nation of immigrants." Native people, by definition, are not a part of the proud heritage.
  5. Bias by (lack of) validity-failing to ensure that information about issues is accurate and unambiguous. Example:A study of Native civilizations before the coming of Europeans is not included in school curricula. An excellent reference article, "Indian Contributions to the World" by D. B. Sealey, is found in Sealey and Kirkness, Indians Without Tipis.
  6. Bias by inertia-perpetuation of legends and half-truths by failure to keep abreast of historical scholarship. Example:Teacher training institutions have long ignored the need to take culture and race into account when training teachers.
  7. Bias by obliteration-ignoringsignificant aspects of Native history.Example:American victory over Japan in WWII is touted without acknowledging the fact that many Native people suffered from nuclear testing as the bomb was being developed in the southwestern United States and on several Pacific Islands.
  8. Bias by disembodiment referring in a casual and depersonalized way to a group of people. Example:educators who do not bother to learn names of community members.
  9. Bias by (lack of) concreteness-dealing with a race or group in generalizations that apply shortcomings, or positive characteristics, of one individual to the group. To be concrete, the material must be factual, objective, and realistic. Example:generalizations like "Native people abuse the welfare system" or "Native people live in harmony with nature."
  10. Bias by (lack of) comprehensiveness and balance-failure to mention all relevant facts that may help form the opinion of the students. Example:Though many Indian people practice traditional spirituality, they are also represented in other major religions in the country.

Media portrayals. Native people are seldom seen in advertising or even on newscasts, unless they are doing something that is uniquely "Native American." They are truly a minority among minorities. If there are TV dramas that include Natives, it is only when they are doing something unusual. Affirmative action programs have led to greater inclusion of African-American and Hispanic people, but this has not extended to Native people. Often Native Americans are forgotten because of their small numbers, or they are grouped under "other" when data are collected and analyzed. At times, it appears that Native Americans are just low in priority when compared to other ethnic groups (Tippeconnic, 1969). Authority figures of all kinds are still predominantly European American with an occasional African-American person in a prestigious position. Natives are rarely portrayed in positions of power.

The portrayal of Native people in the media and mass culture as aggressive and hostile is still common, although the painted warrior on horseback has given way to the long-haired, lanky youth with a bandanna headband-a threatening stereotype that arose during the militant American Indian Movement of the 1960s.

Native totems and titles are still common for sporting teams and as names for outdoor equipment and vehicles. These symbols all stereotype Native Americans as historic relics and, more insidiously, they dehumanize Natives. One need only draw an analogy between Natives and another group, perhaps Jewish, to demonstrate the injustice and inhumanity of these continued practices. A Star of David as a brand of canoe would hardly be acceptable, let alone a sports team called the "Cleveland Jews" or the profile of a hooknosed, long-haired Jewish rabbi on a gas pump.

A most blatant example of stereotyping in popular culture is the story of Peter Pan, a children's classic. The children in the story go to never-never land where they find mermaids, pirates, and Indians. The Indians fulfill every stereotype ever invented about them in terms of appearance, actions, and customs, replete with a vocabulary that consists of "Ugh" and "How." (Pirates and mermaids have a good command of the English language.) To further insult Native people, Western values are attributed to them. They are "red" because they are embarrassed about kissing, they devalue women, and so on. Peter Pan continues its popularity with contemporary children as a book, on records and tapes, and, most influential, in the very carefully crafted video animation by Walt Disney. The ingratiating stereotypes, which so misrepresent Natives, last a lifetime.


In his work on race, language, and culture, Franz Boas (1940) acknowledged cultural factors as more important than biologically inherited factors. "Racial" differences, he stated in 1940, are of "minor importance" (Boas, p. 13). But he goes on to say:

In actual life, we have to reckon with social settings which have a very real existence, no matter how erroneous the opinions on which they are founded. Among us race antagonism is a fact, and we should try to understand its psychological significance. (Boas, p. 14)

Boas goes on to point out that there are strict social obligations in all groups and "outsiders" are commonly viewed as people to be guarded against. Race consciousness assigns characteristics to Natives and other people of color simply because appearance singles them out. He points out that in North America we have social divisions that follow racist lines, leading to discrimination.

. . . a stratification of society in social groups that are racial in character will always lead to racial discrimination. As in all other sharp social groupings, the individual is not judged as an individual but as a member of his class. (Boas, p. 16)

His conclusion is straightforward. "As long as we insist on stratification in racial layers, we shall pay the penalty in the form of interracial struggle" (Boas, p. 17).

Though Boas wrote in 1940, and many changes have been made through civil rights legislation, extensive subtle and systemic discrimination still exists. Most teachers come from mainstream cultural groups and often do not comprehend that there are people who do not perceive reality in the same way they do. Many of the basic American values, taken for granted by middle-class European Americans, are taught by educational institutions and churches and are portrayed by media. These values often exclude minorities and, therefore, are meaningless to minorities.

White teachers are drawn from an education system that has taught and reproduced their way of life. The system worked well for them-at least it has allowed them the opportunity to become professionals. Most teachers have never had the experience of going through an education system that did not reinforce their identities and that failed to acknowledge their cultural values. Many minority students come to class with different perspectives and behaviors taught by their homes and communities. Few teachers are consciously racist and, in fact, many guard against racism and deplore it. The attitude of White superiority, however, surfaces frequently and, to a certain extent, all members of American society have internalized it, even members of minority groups. Vested interests, overt and covert, acknowledged and poorly understood, work toward maintaining Eurocentrist structures, which in turn maintain racism. Being White within such a system does, after all, have its advantages.

Systemic Racism: Some Observations on How It Can Sometimes Feel to Be a Native American

Over the years, Native persons have encountered systemic racism and expressed various frustrations. Below is a list that describes these individuals'perspectives. We present these ideas as challenges to your thinking and as possible discussion points. Many of your students or colleagues may have had experiences that would lead them to share in some of these observations or beliefs:

  1. American "democracy" is a fallacy. People may be born equal but opportunity belongs primarily to the privileged group, which is predominantly of European origin.
  2. Some groups are labeled as being different and having different personality characteristics simply because of their color. The differences in characteristics that people think they see are largely what they are conditioned to see.
  3. Some groups are so privileged that they need never think in terms of politics or social conditions. Being White ensures certain privileges regardless of socioeconomic class. Nevertheless, many Whites perceive themselves as "beleaguered" taxpayers, rarely contemplating their position of inherited privilege.
  4. People of color are routinely prejudged (the root of the word prejudice); that is, they are labeled, judged, and penalized by strangers who think it unnecessary to seek any information beyond skin color.
  5. People of color receive these routine prejudgments based on knowledge and beliefs that "everyone" holds.
  6. White people often make no contact with non-Whites in a crowd because they do not expect to see anyone they recognize anyway.
  7. Many White people have difficulty recognizing individual people of color because they all "look the same." The brownness of their skin is a signal that they are all the same so they are not approached as complex individuals with unique characteristics.
  8. Whites can often improve their lot by working hard and following the rules, but color presents a barrier that can never be eliminated (only worked around), even for the most successful.
  9. European-Americans often form friendships with people of color based on the novelty of the relationships, not on an appreciation for the commonalties they share as human beings.
  10. Among large segments of mainstream society, the belief persists that poor people are poor because of their own lack of ambition or ability. The children of poor people continue to be judged by the poverty of their families and treated as unworthy.
  11. Some people have unearned privileges while others battle courageously all their lives for basic needs of food and housing; disproportionate numbers of the latter are members of minority groups.
  12. Many privileged members of mainstream society are completely unaware of the complex relationships that exist between White and minority peoples.
  13. White people seldom notice the absence of Native Americans in their professional lives-for example, the lack of Native teachers in schools, Native professionals, and so forth.
  14. Democracy in the United States is based on the concept that the country was built by European immigrants and is operated fairly with opportunity for all.
  15. Many fair-minded citizens do not practice racism but operate in cooperation with it.
  16. Many people are not racially intolerant, they are simply not interested in anyone outside of their group. When such people hold power, institutionalized racism can flourish.
  17. Native people have to perform better than White people to be judged equal; and the measures used (grades, university degrees, and so forth) are all calibrated according to White standards.
  18. Much has been written about race relations in the United States but most of this work refers to African-Americans and Hispanics, rarely to American Indians, Alaska Natives, or other indigenous peoples of the United States and its territories.
  19. Educators tend to study one minority group and apply what they have learned across all other minority cultures. This happens when European-Americans identify only two groups in the country-Whites and minorities even though the differences between African-Americans and Native Americans are as great as differences between European-Americans and Native Americans.
  20. Native American historical accounts are often viewed with skepticism because they have no written histories.
  21. Many White people continue to make openly racist remarks about Natives when they think they are in an all-White group.
  22. People misinterpret the nondirected activities and incidental learning that take place in some Native-run schools, believing that academic learning does not take place because the kids "do what they want."
  23. Faculties made up of Native American and European-American members at tribally controlled schools are generally considered "balanced," while most mainstream schools and universities have no or few Indian staff members and are not considered unbalanced.
  24. All education is delivered by card-carrying (certified) individuals. Lip service is paid to the idea of offering courses that require the expertise of non-card-carrying Natives but little action is taken. As a result, Native language courses are rarely offered.
  25. Teachers who are not trained to teach Native children tend to experience failure and early burnout. The failure of these teachers is projected onto "unteachable Natives" rather than being attributed to the system that inadequately prepared them to teach minorities.
  26. Band- and tribally-operated schools are judged against standards set forth for European-American-operated schools. Not built into this evaluation standard are criteria for judging how well these schools meet tribally-set cultural and other educational goals.
  27. Native teacher training programs run by White institutions do not encourage specialization but rather generalist streams.
  28. Many Americans continue to believe they must simply provide support services for Native students while they assimilate, without recognizing the harm in this approach.
  29. Many Americans consider an occasional injection of Native "culture" into the curriculum (e.g., bannock, sundances, and drums) fulfills the obligation to provide a culturally relevant curriculum.

Native Diversity and Cultural Change

Educators have typically attempted to teach Natives according to the single, prescribed method presumably applicable to everyone-a practice that has resulted in failure for many Native (and non-Native) students. This approach to instruction appears to regard all Natives (all persons) as indistinguishable from one another. However, perceptive people exposed to different Native groups soon observe great differences among them, including differences in physical features and life ways (Wax, Wax, & Dumont Jr., 1989).

Native Diversity and Cultural Change

Native cultures and life ways have not remained static. Many tribes have adopted elements of the mainstream way of life, and members have married White partners, making it possible to have blue-eyed, blonde-haired individuals who are enrolled members of tribes. The Native population in the United States today numbers approximately 1.9 million, with more than 637,000 living on reservations or Trust Lands where they can participate in programs sponsored by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (Hodgkinson, 1992). Others, like the Paugussets in Connecticut, have almost blended into the surrounding White society (Josephy Jr., 1991), although they maintain their cultural values and their tribal identities. Others have no reservations, belong to tribes that are almost extinct, and live entirely like mainstream society in rural or urban areas.

Many Native groups have blended the old with the new. Some of the Northwest coastal Indians in California, for example, live in cedar houses complete with glass windows and factory-made doors. Their children, who dress according to current styles and listen to rock music, still participate in the ancient rituals and ceremonies. Native fishermen drive their dugouts and canoes with outboard motors, and medicine men wear sunglasses to ease eye pain, and drive to curing ceremonies in the latest automobiles. Native social, political, and religious systems have been affected by the impact of the Europeans, but more often than not, Native communities have modified or combined these influences with contemporary and ancient traditions.

Just as physical appearances of Native people differ, so do their philosophies about life. Despite acculturation, Native languages, spirituality, traditions, values, and ways of life survive in the United States. The Hopi and other Pueblo Indians maintain their priesthoods; dances; and religious, social, and political organizations with relatively little change. Some Native groups urge others to reject the non-Native world of turmoil and competitiveness, believing it to be inconsistent with peace and harmony within the cosmos. But while some maintain old values and traditions rigorously, others live as trained professionals. In this capacity, some are assisting in self governance, filling official and administrative roles formerly filled by non-Natives. For these individuals, acculturation has taken place but it has been matched by revived pride in their Native tribal or village heritage. On the other hand, many Native American authors, artists, weavers, and actors have won international acclaim for artistry based wholly or in part on their traditional themes and values.

Putting Native Cultural Capital to Use

Native American students trained in mainstream classrooms have not been compensated for their cultural capital. Giroux (1983) defines cultural capital as "a set of meanings, qualities of style, modes of thinking and types of dispositions that are accorded a certain social value and status..." (p. 88). The theory of cultural capital can be traced to Bourdieu's (1977) argument that schools do not promote equality but function principally to reproduce and sanction ascribed inequalities. Bourdieu believed that schools endorse the values of those of higher socioeconomic standing.

Logically, then, schools that hope to break the pattern of low socioeconomic status for Natives in the future will need to break from old patterns of schooling for Native students. A part of the discussion that could lead to meaningful change for schools serving Native communities will concern cultural value systems. Many Native Americans have value systems that differ from that of mainstream capitalist society, and they are unlikely ever to value the acquisition of material wealth as a sign of worthiness. When schools attempt to cast such children into the mainstream, overlooking their cultural differences and resources, Native cultural capital becomes unwanted baggage instead of the source of value it could otherwise be.

Educators, dedicated to the success of their Native students, will have to begin by acknowledging their current failure. They will have to decide to do things differently.

If Native people are to succeed in the educational system, many roles need to be reversed. Part of this role reversal will require that mainstream teachers learn from their students. In a system that values Native students, the cultural capital that such students bring with them into the classroom will be viewed as something different but valid, not as something inappropriate and deficient. The "hegemonic control of the white society must be set aside and authority for Native education placed firmly in the hands of Native people themselves" (Mallea,1989, p. 81). Good teachers have, in fact, always learned as much from their students as they have been able to teach them.

Government policymakers and non-Indian educators have much to learn from the Native communities they serve. Non-Native teachers who want to turn things around can begin by learning from their students and from their local Native communities. That way teachers can find out how to "cash in" on the cultural capital their charges bring to school. Their teaching will improve as a result. Teacher learner role reversal is not only appropriate, it is necessary.

An example of putting Native cultural capital to work can be found in recent studies of Native language use. Hirst (1986), Cummings (1981), Brandt & A young man (1989), and others have found that for students with a first language other than English, the continued use of the first language by teachers or aides helped students acquire a second language, usually English, with a greater proficiency. They found that when the teacher or teacher-aide spoke the ancestral language, the students scored significantly higher in reading and language tests. Such new evidence should put to rest the misconception that Native language use (or Native cultural capital) causes poor academic achievement.

Such findings also have implications for rethinking curriculum design and pedagogical strategies used in classrooms serving Native students today. Educators involved in the transmission of knowledge to Natives are involved in cultural reproduction. Understanding the negative effect that comes with attempting to transmit inappropriate cultural knowledge, successful non-Native teachers work instead to transmit values, belief systems, and behavioral norms consistent with those of the Native community. Through such a dynamic process, the social, economic, and political values of the Natives are reproduced.

Until recently, schools have generally been alien to the local village or tribal community. On most reservations, the school building and the teacher residences surrounding it have differed greatly from the homes of the Natives. Often, teachers in such circumstances continually describe to visitors the many difficulties of Native schools. Many people become convinced that it is the Indians that are the problem, not the cultural gap that exists between the two cultural systems (Kroskrity, 1987).

Mainstream society members often fail to realize that Natives are continually attempting to function in systems that are not only foreign to their culture but oppressive. Hilliard (1978) states that one of the forms of oppression is the use of euphemisms. By this, he means that real problems are recast in ways that do not make the majority uncomfortable. In the case of schooling, the problem would be the lack of success of Native students in the present school system. Native students are portrayed as having too many problems, thereby freeing educators from acknowledging that they and the system are the real problem.

A good place to begin bridging the culture gap is with Native language instruction. As previously mentioned, instruction in one's own language can raise test scores in reading and writing. Continual use of one's Native language can lead to a renewed appreciation of one's heritage. Teachers can extend the use of Native languages into structured language play that incorporates sentence building, vocabulary development, word searches, and so forth. As children learn more about their language, they also gain valuable experience in inferential reasoning and informal generalization. The focus of such activities is to get students to use their language in ways that will bring out its wealth of structure and meaning.

Another way to use Native cultural capital involves the home environment of Native children, where learning often tends to be incidental, but not directive (Redford, 1980; Coombs et al., 1958). Teaching strategies for these children should shift away from teacher directives toward cooperative and observational activities as well as voluntary participation. Studies have shown that instructional styles resembling the learning contexts of the home and community are more effective with Native learners than the pedagogical strategy of teachers calling on students to elicit verbal responses (Erikson, 1963; Krashen, 1982). More effort needs to be put into finding teaching styles and methods that enhance educational effectiveness, especially in those schools where the failure of Native students is high.

Long-term studies (Jordan, 1984; Thorp, 1982; Yogt, Jordon & Thorp, 1987) demonstrated that when Native students were forced to choose between their home culture and the culture of the school, disastrous results occurred. However, when teaching methodology was changed to reflect the ways students were taught in the home, academic achievement improved. It appears that cultural mismatching between home and school often starts a cycle of failure for Native students, which is hard to break once begun.

The Special Role of Native American Teachers

The Special Role of Native American Teachers Bruno Bettelheim (1976), in Uses of Enchantment, discusses the use of folklore in the treatment of disturbed children and, from that perspective, draws conclusions regarding the use of folk and fairy tales in the lives of normal, healthy children. He believes that such tales, like other parts of education, help children in the important task of finding meaning in life. "Regarding this task, nothing is more important than the impact of parents and others who take care of the child; second in importance is our cultural heritage when transmitted to the child in the right manner" (p. 4).

"Our cultural heritage" can take on ominous overtones when one visualizes unknowledgeable non-Native teachers who lack appreciation of the cultural capital of their Native students. What conflicts and dichotomies are inflicted on a child if the teacher's knowledge and perspectives are imparted as the only "right" way of knowing and being? What damage is done to self-esteem as a child's way of knowing is ignored or discredited?

Several steps can be taken to overcome the culture gap between teachers and students. These steps include training people from various cultural groups to teach; training all teachers in cultural sensitivity, and returning control of the educational systems to parents and communities. These steps include many challenges, however. For example, the majority of school districts enrolling Native children still do not have a board policy regarding Native representation. Vine Deloria (1970) said, "Rarely does anyone ask an Indian what he thinks of the modern world" (p. 222), and the situation has not improved much over the past 23 years.

Building a Native Teaching Force

Despite current efforts to train Native teachers, there remains an acute shortage of Native teachers able to serve as role models and provide unique cultural knowledge to Native and non-Native students. Ideally, teachers from within a culture will teach their own community's children, especially in the early school years. With the proliferation of Indian-controlled schools all over North America, the need for Native teachers is becoming more evident. Considerable documentation now exists on teacher training programs for Native people (Moore, 1980; Barnhardt, 1986; Kirkness,1986; Pepper, 1988; Nelson-Barber, 1990; Nyce,1990), but the majority of studies tend to be descriptive, making generalization to other groups difficult.

Few Natives are trained to teach, contributing to Native studentsuccess rates that continue to lag behind other groups, which outcome, in turn, contributes to a smaller pool of candidates for teacher training. This chicken-and-egg dilemma will not be resolved quickly or easily. Nelson-Barber (1990) points out that minorities represent only five percent of the teaching force and entry requirements often militate against minority students entering teacher training programs. Nyce (1990) shows that alternative entrance requirements have played a major role in making Native teacher training in Canada a success.

Equally important, teacher training institutions have seldom included courses on effective teaching for minority cultural groups (Barman, Hebert, & McCaskill, 1986). Additionally, perspectives of Native teachers and other minority educators have rarely been sought in academic discourse, even when that discourse specifically addresses the needs of Native children. We did an informal survey of library materials signed out of the library at Brandon University in Manitoba, Canada, a small university noted for its success in training Native teachers. Books on educational issues written by Native scholars are rarely signed out. For example, the very informative book, The Native American Today: A Report on the Second Convocation of Indian Scholars (1971), was signed out only by ourselves. The idea that a Native educator has something of value to say to a mainstream educator has not yet taken hold.

Limited enrollments in graduate programs even, for example, in those Canadian universities that have been training Native undergraduate teachers for many years, such as the University of British Columbia and the University of Brandon, Manitoba, ensure that the Native voice in academic discourse will continue to be underrepresented for many years.

There is a need for institutions to recognize that successful teachers of minority children have skills that are not normally offered in teacher training programs (Nelson-Barber, 1990). When those teachers are part of the same minority group as their students, this success may be due to shared cultural identity, language, or experiences; the ability to adapt content appropriately; and to the capacity to build trusting relationships based on mutual respect. Nelson-Barber (1990) reports that the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards is now developing more realistic and rigorous standards for evaluating teachers. The Teacher Assessment Project (TAP) at Stanford University acknowledges that current assessment practices exclude minority candidates. To eliminate inappropriate biases, TAP has collaborated with several Native teacher training programs in order to identify suitable criteria to evaluate Native teachers. Some specific criteria have been defined, including knowledge and skill in the following areas:


There are compelling reasons for finding additional ways to recruit Native students (who already possess much of the cultural knowledge needed to succeed with Native students) into teacher education programs and for designing programs to accommodate these students. Kroskrity (1987) found, in his studies with Terva and Hopi students, that the best performers were those in institutions that most closely resembled students' homes and the community. "Where students were permitted voluntary participation, where they could engage in group cooperative attitude, they encountered no problems in classroom performance." He listed several culturally-based learning preferences. These included: (a) student preferences for learning through observation; (b) subsequent supervised participation in activities culminating in a series of self tests; (c) unsupervised practice and mastery (to the learner's satisfaction) of new skills; and (d) demonstration of the skill at a point chosen by the learner.

There is much that teachers need to know about how culture affects student responses to schooling. For example, they should know about language diversity, the integration of language and school learning, and appropriate teaching methods and their underlying philosophies. Above all, teachers must be able to recognize and put to use, not devalue, multiple cultural competencies. Teachers who provide continuity in the classroom with cultural upbringing are teachers who view cultural knowledge as an educational resource. Schooling must not be construed by parents, community, and students as antagonistic to their Native cultural heritage (Kroskrity, 1987, p. 102). Though good teachers from any background will do all these things, the value of a teacher from the child's own culture cannot be overestimated.

Tribal Colleges

Tribal colleges present an educational model that offers hope for more relevant and culturally sensitive forms of teacher education. As early as 1911, the idea of establishing a college to serve Native Americans was proposed (Crum, 1989), but it was not until 1968 that the Navajo Nation established the first tribal college. By 1991, 24 reservation-based tribal colleges had been established; 14 are accredited at the associate degree level, two at the baccalaureate level, and one at the master's level (Houser, 1991). Though the colleges offer training in a wide variety of areas, the training of teachers and teacher aides may well have the most profound effect on future educational trends in elementary and secondary schools. Most of the tribal colleges offer 2-year programs, often preparing students to go on with their education coursework and upper division courses at nearby universities. The major benefits are described by Houser (1991) in his report commissioned by the Indian Nations at Risk Task Force of the U.S. Department of Education. The description that follows is largely drawn from his report.

High dropout rates of students in mainstream institutions motivated tribal leaders to find an alternative education system. Many tribal college students have already attempted advanced education elsewhere, but left before graduating due to a variety of obstacles including: being an unacceptably great distance from their home communities, the weight of family responsibilities, irrelevant curricula, and inadequate academic preparations. These problems are recognized and dealt with in community-based tribal colleges.

Native Americans have a good deal of "catching up" to do since mainstream institutions have served them so poorly in the past. Tribal colleges cater particularly to nontraditional students: women, heads of households with family and extended responsibilities, students lacking a high school diploma, and students with financial needs. The colleges strengthen the trainees' attitudes toward academics and responsibility, thereby ensuring a higher success rate and establishing lifelong behaviors.

Tribal colleges take pains to fill gaps in students' knowledge, for example, in mathematics or English writing skills. Teachers trained in these institutions enter classrooms with a high degree of confidence and competence. Some colleges are now working to improve elementary and secondary schools, not only by training teachers and teacher aides but also by redefining educational policies or restructuring schools.

Each tribal college has its own charter and is controlled locally, allowing the specific educational needs of each community to be met. Each college has a special relationship to the culture and values of the tribe it serves, and the important role of elders is recognized and honored. The curricula of the programs reflect the social, economic, and cultural situations of individual reserves. Indian Studies and language courses are an integral part of the programs, and colleges prepare many of their own texts, thus lessening the concern over biased and inaccurate material. Management styles and human relationships within the colleges are grounded in the cultural values of their communities.

The involvement of families and extended families in a student's program is recognized and cherished for the added dimensions it brings to the student's education and to the college as a whole. Tribal colleges are an integral part of the community geographically, culturally, socially, economically, and organizationally. Students are not subjected to an unfamiliar and often unfriendly environment when they begin college.

Efforts are made by the instructors to match teaching styles with the educational realities of the communities. There are also attempts to match teaching practices to the needs of the students. Tribal colleges use their own evaluation techniques; they recognize that yardsticks appropriate to other communities may not be appropriatefor their students and that lockstep progress toward a goal may not be possible or appropriate for everyone.

Tribal spiritual traditions were a foundation of these institutions and remain so today. The teachers of these traditions, the elders, are viewed as an integral component of the continued success of their programs.

Tribal colleges support and work cooperatively with each other in spite of the fact that they compete for the same funds. Consequently, a wide variety of advice and research is available to even the most inexperienced staff member.

In summary, the tribal colleges perform two major functions: they support Native American students toward successful outcomes in ways that have never been done before. More importantly for the teaching profession, they are establishing new educational paradigms. Teachers trained in tribal colleges are in a better position to understand holistic teaching and to model those techniques because their own educations were delivered holistically. Similarly, they will tend to use culturally appropriate teaching methods more readily since they have not been forced to learn and practice methods appropriate to a different culture. They may more readily integrate school, community, and family in meaningful ways since no dichotomies were created for them in their postsecondary training. These new teachers are experiencing a model for developing culturally appropriate teaching materials and hence are well prepared to do so in their own teaching. The same holds true for using alternative methods of evaluation.

Houser reports that non-Native students also attend these colleges; in one case they comprise one-quarter of the student body. The Canadian experience of special teacher training programs for Native people has shown that the Native focus of these programs has a profound effect on the non-Native participants. Non-Native graduates of these programs have little difficulty finding employment in band-operated schools or in schools with a high Native enrollment (Brandon University Northern Teacher Education Program: Task Force Report, 1990, revised 1991).

The value of tribal colleges will become more apparent as time goes on. In 1990, however, they were woefully underfunded (AIHEC, 1990; Carnegie, 1989; Shanley, 1990; Stein, 1990). Every effort needs to be made to fund tribal colleges even if it means diverting funds from those institutions that have traditionally offered postsecondary education to American Indians. The move toward more baccalaureate and graduate programs at tribal colleges promises to have a profound impact on education for Native Americans. Tribal colleges offer new solutions to long-standing problems and every effort should be made to support them-financially and morally, through research, recognition by mainstream academics, and media coverage.

Toward Responsive Practices by All Teachers

The teacher said that "only pigs and deer eat acorns. " 1 have two children so this means that one of them must be a pig and one must be a deer...

—A Hupa parent testifying before an Indian Nations
At Risk Task Force hearing in 1990 (in Szasz, 1991)

Mainstream teachers are often surprised and hurt to find that in spite of their good intentions, they may be a part of the problem. Some react in anger. Fortunately, there also have always been those sensitive teachers who see the children as children first and as part of a particular ethnic group second. The accepting and loving personalities of these teachers, and their willingness to learn from the community, create few problems for children and parents.

Good teachers make serious attempts to learn about the communities they serve and to adopt their behaviors in order to create congruence for the learners. Such teachers are helped and appreciated by Native parents and often have life-long influences on their students. This chapter describes ways that all teachers, but particularly non-Native teachers, can strengthen their effectiveness in teaching Native American students.

Strengthening Parent Involvement

Complaints that Native parents show little interest in the education of their children have often been voiced by teachers and administrators. However, recent hearings such as those conducted by the Indian Nations At Risk (INAR) Task Force of the U. S. Department of Education have proven that Native parents are keenly interested and have expressed a strong commitment to the education of their children as well as a great deal of apprehension about what will happen if their children do not do well in school.

The hearings also indicated that parents are unsure about how to help their children in school or how they can participate in improving the school system or their community. Given their history with boarding schools and the dominance of the federal government, this is not surprising, nor is it surprising that many Native parents are uncomfortable in school. Therefore, it is important for educators to create conditions in schools that will enable parents to recover confidence in themselves as the first educators of their children. Parents are the strongest influence a child can have. If the parent demands school attendance and supervises homework, the child may adjust more readily to life in school. Educators need to take the first step in these matters. Home visits and other approaches that involve parents in an ongoing way could mean much to the success of students. Beginning teachers should keep the following successful strategies in mind for strengthening parent involvement:

Take responsibility for learning community ways. When teachers have radically different backgrounds from their students, they need to become intensely involved with the children's environment. Nelson-Barber (1990) found that teacher success in non-mainstream classrooms is associated with the teacher taking responsibility for becoming knowledgeable about the students' community and homes.

Become more aware of nonverbal communication. Mainstream America is extremely verbal and teachers need special training in nonverbal cues and interactive styles. Mainstream society, generally, does not hold people responsible for nonverbal behavior, though it may have more impact during an interaction than the words spoken and may take on even greater importance when people come from different language backgrounds. As a teacher becomes more active in the life of a community, nonverbal cues the teacher expresses will become more consistent with the community's norms.

Learn Native American history and culture. Teachers, generally, are not knowledgeable about Native American history, culture, customs, and values. The teacher's education is usually based in a mainstream society perspective, which may make teachers unaware of other equally valid perspectives. Economic differences between a teacher's lifestyle and that of the children may create similar barriers. It is the teacher's responsibility to adapt, though common practice has been to expect the child to adapt to the teacher or be labeled a failure.

Read Native American writers. There is a wealth of material available today which is written by Native people about Native people. Teachers and trainers of teachers have a responsibility to read and include this material in academic courses. Information can come from Native journals like the WICAZO SA Review, The Canadian Journal of Native Education, or the large amount of information available through the ERIC system (see Chapter 5). Revisiting history through books, like Tiana Bighorse's (1990) Bighorse, the Warrior, provides insights into Native history rarely glimpsed before. The preparations for the celebration of the Columbus quincentennial sparked a Native response in unprecedented volume, and provided new insights into old ideas. History from a new perspective may be controversial but books like Peter Matthiessen's In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (1983) present contemporary issues of justice for Native people from a Native perspective. Jack Weatherford's Indian Givers (1988) and Native Roots (1991) reveal an abundance of information regarding Native contributions from pre-Columbian contact to present day society.

The above are only a few examples of the many materials now available. It must become a practice for teachers to become more knowledgeable about the students they teach and their families. Teachers and administrators have a special responsibility if schools are to become friendly, results-oriented environments for learning and teaching. Their role is to make the system work: to develop a good community network, to involve parents and students in education, to translate goals into educational programs, to teach all students effectively, and to make the best educational uses of the time and resources available to them.

Cooperative Learning and Community-Based Contexts

To make the system more nurturing for students, students must be involved in the changes. Peer pressure is an important factor. Consider using methods such as cooperative learning, a method that involves students helping other students academically. Cooperative learning is compatible with many Native traditions for learning and teaching in which knowledge was passed on through imitation and observation. Being a part of the shared social structure is a principal goal of cooperative learning arrangements. Teachers unfamiliar with Native learning styles often fear that students do not know or understand a topic because they do not verbalize the knowledge. Often, when supported by peers, this reticence on the part of some Native students disappears.

Many non-Native teachers believe that verbal abstraction is a necessary step in higher-level understanding. Many teachers also have concluded that Native students are not engaged in learning when they refuse to attempt a new skill, or when they appear to be lost and unable to learn a skill after failing at preliminary, isolated steps. The Native student may, in fact, be watching the process until he or she feels ready for a proficient first try or until a real-world practical application is needed. In many Native communities, a child's learning is monitored by their direct testing of social and environmental reactions. New skills, such as those needed in changing a tire or connecting a Nintendo game, either work or do not work; there is no need for success to be confirmed by a teacher.

Typical European-American methods for delivering the disconnected content of curriculum prevalent in most schools may leave out many students. Many Native traditions view children as complete beings who are in charge of their own development-a process that should not be manipulated by adults or teachers. For these students, education can only have meaning when it is rooted in local ways of knowing and interacting.

In most mainstream classrooms, maturity is equated with autonomy and individual success. Observation and cooperation, on the other hand, are often viewed as inattentiveness or even cheating. Many mainstream teachers believe they also must maintain an air of aloofness to avoid the impression of favoritism, and to evaluate and rank student progress objectively. This form of evaluation differs sharply from some traditional evaluations, in which mastery is kept open and perfected through social contact and perhaps environmental feedback.

Another potential difference between non-Native teachers and Native students relates to Native language and patterns of Native thinking skills. Children who have grown up with a Native language background do not necessarily organize reasoning according to a linear sequence of cause and effects, or axioms-theorems--corollaries as do speakers of European languages. Instead, Native speakers often keep a number of related ideas in mind without assigning them any particular order. To teachers who are from European backgrounds, this type of thinking may appear unfocused and disorganized. Native thinkers who often approach an idea or topic from many different perspectives may find European methods of thinking rigid and narrow. Such an approach to knowledge has direct implications in the area of teaching. For example, when European thinkers set out to build a scale model, they would begin by measuring distances and angles separately, and calculating correct proportions to achieve an accurate representation. A Native individual, on the other hand, might integrate all these features, possibly working the model from many different angles at the same time. Many Natives become very skilled in building models without having teachers isolate the skills for practice or perfection.

In many Native communities, parents and elders use an integrated approach to knowledge as they teach younger people by sharing experiences with them, not isolating knowledge and skills within certain disciplines. Each skill has a social, economic, spiritual, and historical context. Children participate fully in the daily activities of adults, instead of practicing in an artificial setting such as a classroom. Such authentic learning takes on deeper meaning through parent involvement.

Instead of organizing vocabulary or social studies curricula by noun-centered topics, teachers need to look at each area of study in the context of the children's daily lives. Native children, for example, may not spontaneously sort blocks of wood by size, shape, weight, or composition. They may begin by considering which wood is best for a tent frame, for use as floats, or firewood. Children learn skills through experience with adults, not by having adults tell them what to do according to a recipe or by rote. Classroom activities will be more effective when centered on real life tasks with children involved as apprentices. The challenge for teachers becomes choosing contexts within which students can learn the history and geography of their community. Depending on the lesson, children may learn best by engaging in hikes and canoe trips, map study, reading, oral history (including religious and legal history), archaeology, mythology, hunting and fishing activities, or agriculture.

Helping students integrate their experiences, spiritual beliefs, and social values with what they read and hear helps Native students find avenues into the world outside their community. Using models of interpersonal communications familiar to students such as conversation, storytelling, and talking while doing, can remove barriers to learning. However, to discover these models usually involves allowing students to instruct teachers in their ways instead of teachers continually doing all the instructing.

Whole Language Instruction

Language is critical in maintaining cultural continuity and Native identity. It is through this connection that whole language learning can provide a tool in empowering Native students. Whole language instruction, which involves integrating the language arts, is a process that allows reading to occur implicitly. The components-reading, writing, spelling, literature, and grammar-are learned through practice rather than being taught as skills. The practice involves using experiences the student brings into the classroom and directing that practice at what matters to them beyond the school walls.

Using the whole language approach, an approach consistent with Native learning styles, allows for the recognition of Native heritage through the various language arts skills. This approach incorporates into the program the use of concrete materials, shared experiences, and prior knowledge. It also builds into the program safe, risk-taking opportunities that enable Native students to learn at their own pace. Most activities are experiential and interactive.

Examples of Promising Practice

Educators from various places in North America currently deliver many innovative programs that deviate from mainstream methods, yet fulfill all curriculum requirements. These programs were born when Indian educators resisted the treatment by mainstream historians and textbook developers and looked for better ways.

In response to the Elders of the Nelson House Indian Band, who desired to keep an honorable culture alive, a group of educators formed the Canadian "School in the Bush." Staff of the Roland Lauzon School in Nelson House, Manitoba, Canada, initiated the program in conjunction with the community. In this program, teachers take students out of the regular classroom and transport them to one of many isolated trapper's cabins where they learn many different skills. One lesson centers on the tanning of moose hide. Because the process takes time, the lesson has many parts. During the process, children learn scientific, ecological, monetary, mathematical, and language art skills, all from the perspective of their culture. At the conclusion of the lessons, not only have the students gained academic knowledge and captured vital elements of their culture, they also have learned how to make a lucrative living through the sale of moccasin slippers and mukluks from the tanned hide.

Staff from Eastwood Elementary School (including one of the authors of this guide) in Thompson, a mining town in northern Manitoba, Canada, devised an alternative to teaching science through the medium of papers, pencils, and overheads. We invited resource persons of Native ancestry to visit the school and teach lessons. Often these visitors came to class with fresh fish or freshly caught rabbits and, in front of their student audience, proceeded to dress the fish or rabbits. While our non-Native colleagues squirmed uncomfortably, Native students contributed vigorously with instructions and anecdotal remarks, which they later included in excellent writings and retellings. The experiences also enhanced student self esteem which had been noticeably absent before the visits. What began as an experimental program became an integral element of the course owing to student demand. Teachers at the Junior High later adopted this strategy, especially in the area of science, where it had the same overwhelmingly positive results.

After the success of the Elders' lessons, students were loath to accept a return to the regular delivery of programs. The academic value of the lessons was unmistakable, so we sought other approaches that necessitated moving temporarily out of the classroom.

Our next project involved the building of a school tipi (see box, pages 38-39). By using this activity, we based many lessons in our students' Native culture instead of treating the culture as subject matter. A description of our efforts sheds light on the problems encountered in efforts to bridge two differing cultural systems-that of the Native culture and that of the school culture-within the confines of a set school calendar. The traditional school calendar deprives students of the many opportunities for learning available during summer months. It was during those months that the first Native children observed and learned many things about their world. It was then that they selected tipi poles. Native children also learned about "fish spawning," not by taking school subjects such as biology or zoology, but through active participation as observers. From each observance, the Native children gleaned more information on fish spawning and its role in the ecosystem.

The implications for teachers are clear. Whether lessons are conducted in a Native or English language environment---or address manual dexterity, general or specific knowledge, or skills like reading, writing, or mathematics-lessons will be most effective when centered on real-life tasks with children involved as apprentices. Children benefit from participation in meaningful projects outside the classroom. School then becomes a place where students gain and improve the skills required by the community in its daily life.

Building a Tipi

Breaking new ground in the School District of Mystery Lake, LaVina Gillespie, Native Studies/Cree teacher, and David Mackie, science specialist, abandoned contemporary school activities and replaced them with traditional Native life skills.

Starting in September 1988, the pair of teachers decided that to develop a better identity, a more positive image, and a clearer idea of their roots, their Native students had to go back in time to experience first-hand what their forefathers had experienced. Practical, hands-on experience had to replace the classroom lecture. It was decided thatbuilding a tipi would not only be an enjoyable activity, but one with cultural significance as well.

A tipi was chosen because it represented not only a dwelling, but a Native philosophy of life, subtly, yet succinctly. After months of research, class discussions, and model building, students went "into the field," sinking into waist-deep snow at -40 deg C. temperatures to select fourteen uniform black spruce poles, which would hold up the "dress" of the tipi.

It quickly became apparent that everything connected with the tipi required an abundance of physical labor. After collecting the poles came the tedious task of peeling them. After the peeling, careful measurements had to be taken to ensure that the canvas would fit correctly.

Once the canvas was sewn, it appeared that the task would become easier, but every student has a different idea of what should be painted on the canvas.

The students finally decided that the colors would represent their interpretation of life. In geometric designs they chose light blue to represent the sky and water, yellow beside the blue to signify the sun. Green was a major color since, after much research and discussion, it was felt that many of the things necessary for life are green. Red, the most vivid and prominent color, represented the close blood relationship between Mother Earth and her children.

Two bison, hand-drawn and painted by Darren McKay, a Grade 7 student at Eastwood School, adorned the tipi to signify that all the colors chosen worked together to fulfill the circle of life held close to their tradition. The most significant and striking feature, however, was the sun-which again combined all of the life colors.

After a year and a half of deliberations and decision making, the tipi was finally ready for the public.

Upon speaking with many elders in the community of Thompson, the students were told that certain protocol needed to be followed before the tip! could be used in the school. To qualify as an authentic tipi, a ceremonial feast and pipe ceremony were necessary. Elders of the community were approached, and they agreed to bless the students' tipi. Performing the ceremony were Morning Star and pipe carriers Mama Bear and Chris Harper.

After the tipi had been blessed, it was time for other Native students to show off their talents. The Grade 6 and 7 students did a display of many forgotten Indian games, which will be a part of the tipi display.

To enhance the Tipi Opening Ceremony, other students recited poetry and demonstrated square dancing and jigging, which left the audience enthusiastic and entertained. It was truly a cultural, educational experience the community of Eastwood will not soon forget.

—Reprinted with permission from Education Manitoba, 17(6), p.22

In Alaska, another school with exemplary teaching can be found in Togiak, a village near Bristol Bay, where Mrs. E. Yanez integrates Yupik values with Western values and knowledge, and at the same time reinforces and builds upon the existing Yupik identity.

She uses methods of incidental learning and draws on observational and volunteer skills. Children are not treated as empty vessels; they are allowed to investigate many areas of the subject under discussion. She teaches her class of first graders with very few, if any, directives. Through her teaching style, children become responsible for their own learning. They learn by observing and cooperating with one another. They are not forced to learn anything they are not ready to learn. This culturally valued behavior treats the young individuals as genuine human beings who are able to learn actively as well as subliminally.

Oscar Kawagley (1990), Yupik Eskimo and graduate from the University of Alaska/ Fairbanks explains how specific cultural knowledge can enhance children's learning. He explains that there always have been Yupik ways of knowing which include "interbe- mobility and animal messages, intuitions, visions and dreams, spiritual interaction and observation" (p. 5). He illustrates his theories by using mathematics and science examples. He explains that the Yupik approach is more mystical, pragmatic and inductive while the western way is more mundane, experiential, and deductive. A dichotomy is created for children when the two worlds in which they live are removed from each other.

By including traditional ways of thinking, the skills and knowledge that already exist in a culture can be put to use. Kawagley (1990) explains:

The natural sciences are nothing more than observations and mystical understanding of the interplay between Nature and man .... Teachers must realize that these Native students entering school are not empty computer disks or sponges to be filled with facts and knowledge by the teacher. They enter school with language skills already in their minds, and the beginnings of an understanding of how they interact as part of a family. They have the basic qualifications for success required of any student in the world who wishes to become a successful banker, scientist, teacher, world leader, or a renowned thinker. (pp.13-14)

Such teaching practices make use of the cultural capital of students, particularly oral literature, the mystical philosophy, conservation, sacredness of the relationship to the land, and Yupik ability in spatial relationships. Elders help with the teaching, using the secrets and idiosyncrasies of the language. Learning is based on interaction with nature, not on words as is common in mainstream schools.

Kawagley points out that Native students and adults may use the same methods and thinking processes as non-Natives. However, how people relate to the natural world and how empirical data are interpreted are influenced by value concepts, perspectives, and philosophy. Language has created barriers to learning for children, since unfamiliar attitudes are taught in English and since having to learn a new language before academic learning can begin creates a dichotomy that frequently results in failure.

Kawagley (1990) uses a specific example of a fish camp and shows how a wide range of "science concepts" (as they would be identified in a curriculum guide) are taught by the Elders: aging by bacterial action, chemical equations, toxicity, use of the wedge, energy transformation, identification of plants and animals, life cycles, food, climatic and weather conditions, telling time, animal behavior and habitat, common sense measurement, plant and berry use, refrigeration techniques, inertia in a canoe or kayak, ecological interdependence, and environmental consciousness. He also points out how the scientific information can be used to teach quality work in writing, note-taking, diagramming, labeling, visual thinking, and imagining.

Graduates from the teacher training programs at the University of Alaska/ Fairbanks are making integration of community and schools possible all over Alaska. Barnhardt (1990) reports on a school in St. Mary's, Alaska, where a poster, clearly stating the community's educational goals, is conspicuously displayed around the school and in the community:

Every Yupik is Responsible to All Other Yupiks for Survival Of Our Cultural Spirit, And The Values and TraditionsThrough Which It Survives. Through Our Extended Family, We Retain, Teach and Live Our Yupik Way. With Guidance and Support from Elders. We Must Teach Our Children Yupik Values: (a) Love For Children; (b) Respect for Others; (c) Sharing; (d) Humility; (e) Hard Work; (f) Spirituality; (g) Cooperation; (h) Family Roles; (i) Knowledge for Family Tree; (j) Knowledge of Language; (k) Hunter Success; (1) Domestic Skills; (m) Avoid Conflict; (n) Humor; (o) Respect for Tribe; (p) Respect for Land; and (q) Respect for Nature. (p. 62)

Kawagley points out that participation of Elders is critical to Yupik teaching. They impart wisdom, including "individual fortitude, values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" (p.15).

Summary. If Native students know that their role in the classroom is respected and culturally consistent, they will develop the academic competence to participate successfully in the mainstream curriculum.

Using teaching methods and materials that are authentically Native will help Native students connect with the world outside their communities. Native students and their teachers can then confidently develop their own methods of learning and teaching. It is, after all, the European-American system that has failed Native Students. Native ways have never been given a chance in America's schools. Despite that fact, many of these ways have survived; therefore, it is time to abandon the alien codes devised by the mainstream society and institute Native ways. By doing so, the entire American society can benefit.

Constructing a Theory of Native Education

If institutions of learning are to demonstrate caring toward Native Americans, they must go beyond book learning and view knowledge as encompassing other sorts of learning. Native American scholars must be consulted to discover how their knowledge is constructed and passed on. Eber Hampton (1988), a Native American, has made a significant contribution in his list of 12 standards for an Indian theory of education. His standards can be the criteria for judging whether or not the goals of schooling are authentic or relevant to Native aspirations. To be authentically Native, according to Hampton, schooling must incorporate the following strong influences:

  1. spirituality-anappreciation for spiritual relationships;
  2. service-the purpose of education is to contribute to the people;
  3. diversity-meeting the standards of diverse tribes and communities;
  4. culture-a people's ways of thinking, communicating, and living;
  5. tradition-continuity with tradition;
  6. respect-the relationship between the individual and the group recognized as mutually empowering;
  7. history-appreciation of the facts of Native American history, including the loss of the continent and continuing racial and political oppression;
  8. relentlessness-commitment to the struggle for good schools for Indian children;
  9. vitality-recognition of the strength of Indian people and culture;
  10. conflict-understanding the dynamics and consequences of oppression;
  11. place-the sense of place, land, and territory; and
  12. transformation-commitment to personal and societal change.

Native standards differ from those of mainstream society; therefore, many institutions will be unaccustomed to being judged by different standards. Such standards, however, are more inclusive. In a list such as Hampton's, most students will find something with which to identify. The common denominator reflected will be the concern for identity-a reclaiming of pride in identity, a reclaiming of autonomy. If institutions can reconstruct themselves to be more accepting of Native American differences, they will be more acceptable to all individuals.

Cultural transmission was at one time the role of the Native family, but the imposition of European educational institutions usurped this role. To ensure that the ethnic identity of American Natives is preserved, institutions must recognize Native values and educational practices. Constructing a theory of Native education has begun, and it is of utmost importance that the work continue.

Final Thoughts

Native Americans in many parts of North America have begun to make sense of the institution of schooling. The fact that they have begun to restructure schools to accommodate their cultural values is an example of a positive approach to recognizing their own worth.

Now it is time for non-Natives, particularly European-Americans, to reassess the appropriateness of their influence and to take an honest look at racist attitudes that persist within the educational system. These attitudes tend to make many administrators and teachers blind to the cultural capital that Native students bring with them to school. For Native people to succeed in controlling their own institutions, they need skills and knowledge that-under the right circumstances-can be learned in schools. To establish these right circumstances for Native students will require a commitment on the part of White educators to a process of examining and changing the conditions that have in the past proven so crippling to many of America's nearly two million Native citizens. These conditions include the following:

The legacy of assimilation. It is unreasonable to require Native students to give up their heritage and take on an alien heritage that has never acknowledged the legitimacy of Native history or culture.

The lack of Native input Into educational systems. People can adjust and become involved in their societies in new and unique ways. European-Americans must find ways to develop new educational strategies in collaboration with Native people, encouraging two-way communication and learning.

Systemic prejudice and racism. Acknowledge its existence within the educational system and change it for the benefit of all. Teachers with the support of administrators and tribal groups must actively work to combat racism.

Biased curriculum materials. This is a good place to begin in combating anti-Native prejudice. Textbook publishers must be pressured to develop and enforce guidelines for illustrators and writers to represent various Native cultural groups in a positive light, portraying them as having futures with effective links to other societies in the world.

Lack of respect for Native cultural capital. For too many Native students schools are hostile environments in which little of what they bring in the way of cultural capital is appreciated or put to use. Mainstream society must create schools that are more hospitable for Native Americans, schools in which Native students' lives are celebrated and affirmed.

Native students need more institutions like Tribal Colleges where they, as students, not only celebrate their own histories but also receive guidance in examining, critically, how their lives are shaped and molded by society's forces. Tribal colleges are currently involved in the process of constructing their own philosophies of Indian education. We would do well to follow their lead.

Annotated Bibliography of Instructional Materials available through the ERIC System

Any of the items described in this bibliography that have an ERIC Document Reproduction Service (EDRS) number can be ordered by contacting:

7420 Fullerton Road, Suite 110
Springfield, VA 22153-2852
Telephone orders: 800/443-ERIC or 703/440-1400

The charge is $3.30 for each 25 pages in the document (effective January 1,1993). You also may be able to view these documents on microfiche or obtain paper copies at a nearby college of education library.

Journal articles described in this bibliography must be obtained through your local library. Many libraries will help you get copies through interlibrary loan if they do not subscribe to the journals.

Ahngasuk, M., et al. (1979). Inupiag Cultural Enrichment Program. Junior High-High School. Barrow, AK: North Slope Borough School District. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 235 963). Part of a project to teach Inupiaq culture and language, this teacher's guide contains 18 lessons about survival on land, water, and ice. Includes student activities and Inupiaq vocabulary.

Alaska State Department of Education. (1989). Common Ground 1989: Suggested Literature for Alaskan Schools, Grades K-8. Juneau, AK: Author. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 314 757). Includes criteria for Alaskan school districts to use in selecting literature for Grades K-8; an annotated list of suggested literature; and lists of recommended authors, Alaska Native literature anthologies, and sources for Alaskan literature.

Alaska State Department of Education. (1989). Common Ground 1989: Suggested Literature for Alaskan Schools, Grades 7-12. Juneau, AK: Author. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 309 447). Includes criteria for Alaskan school districts to use in selecting literature for Grades 7-12, as well as lists of suggested literature (94 pages), anthologies of Native American and Alaskan writers, anthologies of Alaskan literature by language, and Alaskan poets.

Arviso-One-Feather, V., & Whiteman, H. (1985). American Indian and Alaska Native Career Development Youth Manual. Fort Collins, CO: Cooperative Extension Service. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 273 420). Five activity units help Native American secondary school students to identify their own interests and strengths, make educational decisions, set career goals, and recognize career opportunities in Indian communities.

Arviso-One-Feather, V., & Whiteman, H. (1985). American Indian and Alaska Native Career Development Youth Manual: Leader's Guide. Fort Collins, CO: Cooperative Extension Service. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 273 421). Provides specific suggestions for guiding Native American secondary school students through the learning activities in the student manual, including identifying their own interests, setting goals, and developing career plans. Includes references for additional resources.

Bates, C. (1982). Language Considerations When Working with Eskimo Students. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 226 574). Provides cultural background for teachers of young Eskimo students who have had little exposure to reading and writing behaviors, the purposes of literacy, and language concepts. Suggests instructional strategies such as prereading preparation and use of culturally appropriate materials.

Begay, S. M., & Spencer, H. (1982). Hooghan Baahane' = A Book about the Hogan. Revised Edition. Rough Rock, AZ: Rough Rock Demonstration School. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 267 934). Describes types of hogans and hogan contents. Emphasizes Navajo cultural concepts and values that reflect the importance of family and clan ties and of respectful relations with others and nature. Written in Navajo and English and aimed at lower elementary grades.

Benally, E. R. (1984). American Indian Children's Literature: An Update. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 259 871). An annotated list of reading materials about American Indians for elementary school children, and instructional aids for parents, teachers, and librarians. Most of the 24 entries were written by American Indians and are available from the ERIC Document Reproduction Service.

Bill, W. E. (1988). Breaking the Sacred Circle. Olympia, WA: Office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 302 347). Provides secondary school students with background on American Indian and Alaska Native spiritual values, respect for nature, and reverence for the land, and on the white man's disruption of the Sacred Circle of Life. Includes study questions and many quotes from historical and contemporary Native leaders.

Brescia, W. (Ed.). (1982). Choctaw Tribal Government: A New Era. Philadelphia, MS: Choctaw Heritage Press. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 232 837). Traces Choctaw tribal government from pre-contact to the present. Includes biographies of tribal leaders, treaties, and tribal bylaws and constitution. Part of a series of secondary curriculum materials about the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

Bruce, L. (1990). Young Women of Alaska Speak Out about Dropping Out. Anchorage, AK: Alaska Women's Commission. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 323 474). Examines major factors that caused 115 Alaskan teenage girls (including Alaska Natives) to drop out of "regular" public school, and the ways in which alternative schools have met their needs.

Brundin, J. A. (1990). The Native People of the Northeast Woodlands: An Educational Resource Publication. New York: Museum of the American Indian. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 324 252). Focuses on the Delaware (Canape), the Six Nations (Iroquois), and the history of the U.S. Northeast. Supplements elementary social studies curricula with classroom activities that combine anthropology with fine arts, language arts, environmental science, history, and political science.

Burnes, B. (1982). Teaching about Native Americans in Minnesota Public Elementary Schools. Journal of American Indian Education, 22(1),1-6. In 1981, the majority of Minnesota elementary school teachers surveyed said that, despite recent improvements in classroom materials, they still felt inadequately prepared to teach about Native peoples. Includes recommendations for teacher training.

Cadiente, R. (1986). Juneau Indian Studies Elementary Curriculum Guide. Grades K-5. Juneau, AK: Greater Juneau Borough School District. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 288 656, microfiche only). Presents extensive lesson plans and resource materials for teaching about Tlingit culture and the environment of southeast Alaska. Emphasizes experiential learning activities.

Caduto, M. J., & Bruchac, J. (1988). Keepers of the Earth.:Native American Stories and Environmental Activities for Children and Keepers of the Earth. Teacher's Guide. Golden, CO: Fulcrum. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 329 425-microfiche only). Presents a collection of North American Indian stories and hands-on activities that promote understanding, empathy, and responsible action toward the Earth and its people. Discusses the educational philosophy linking Native American storytelling with experiential environmental activities.

Chu, L., & Culbertson, J. (1982). Rural Alaskan Youth's Attitudes toward Education. Research in Rural Education, 1(1), 27-32. A survey of 73 high school sophomores and seniors from three isolated rural Alaska schools found much lower educational expectations and aspirations among Alaska Natives than among other racial / ethnic groups.

Cole, R. A. (1989). Cultural Perspectives on "Wounded Knee": A Narrative for the Secondary Level Classroom. New England Journal of History, 46(1), 3-28. Provides high school students with a narrative of events leading up to the Battle of Wounded Knee. Includes an annotated bibliography of primary source materials.

Craddock, J. (1988). Developing a Model for an Advanced College Preparation Program for Rural Alaska Students. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 302 349). Describes a 2-week college preparation program for 11th grade Alaska Native students at Sheldon Jackson College. Provides background on the problems of culturally disadvantaged students entering college and an overview of 41 preparatory programs at 33 colleges and universities.

David, A. (Ed.). (1987). Navajos: A Source Booklet for Teachers and Students. Washington, DC: National Education Association. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 302 367). A booklet by Navajo students at the Greasewood/Toyei Consolidated Boarding School (Arizona). Entries portray or explain elements of Navajo culture. Part of the NEA Mastery in Learning Project.

Esmailka, W., & Barnhardt, C. (1981). The Social Organization of Participation in Three Athabaskan Cross-Cultural Classrooms. Final Report. Fairbanks, AK: University of Alaska Center for CrossCultural Studies. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 231571). Examines the teaching styles and teacher-student interactions of three Athabaskan elementary school teachers in an Alaskan community school.

Fenton, R., & Nancarrow, D. (1986). When Good Will Isn't Enough. Prejudice and Racism: Reactions to a Multicultural Unit on Alaska Native Land Claims. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 282 687). Lack of teacher preparation in dealing with students' negative racial attitudes and statements contributed to the failure of a 2-week unit on Alaska Native Land Claims, developed in collaboration with Native groups and designed for inclusion in Anchorage's 11th grade government course.

Finley, P. (1988). Malaise of the Spirit: A Case Study. In J. Kleinfeld, Teaching Cases in Cross-Cultural Education. Fairbanks, AK: University of Alaska. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 308 028). A "teaching case" that describes a White teacher's realization and handling of problem situations in a rural Alaskan high school, including tensions between White and Native students, lower grades and self-esteem among Native students, lack of support among teachers, and poor relations between school and community. Intended to help White preservice teachers reflect on and understand the complexity and ambiguity of teaching in small, culturally different communities.

Fletcher, J. D., & Sawyer, T. E. (1984). Computer-Aided Instruction in Education Basics for Indian Students. Proceedings of the Indian Education Conference (Orem, Utah, June 28-30, 1984). Orem, UT: Indian Affiliates, Inc. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 247 053). Proceedings of a conference on the promises and problems of introducing computer-based instruction for Indian populations. Part of a 3-phase project to develop computer-based instructional materials in word recognition, reading comprehension, and mathematics for Native American elementary students.

Forbes, N. (1984). Television's Effects on Rural Alaska. Summary of Final Report. Social and Cognitive Effects of the Introduction of Television on Rural Alaskan Native Children. Fairbanks, AK: University of Alaska Center for Cross-Cultural Studies. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 248 068). Summarizes data from a 5-year study of the effects on children of the introduction of television in isolated Alaska Native villages. Outlines the influence of television on students' mental skills, English language skills, desire to migrate, goals, sex stereotypes, and attitudes toward self and others.

Forbes, N., et al. (1984). Social and Cognitive Effects of the Introduction of Television on Rural Alaskan Native Children. Final Report. Fairbanks, AK University of Alaska Center for Cross-Cultural Studies. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 248 069). Studies of elementary school children in Alaska Native villages before and after the introduction of television found that the effects of television viewing were not simple or direct but depended on age, sex, ethnicity, and previous exposure to the majority culture. Television influenced children's attitudes toward sex roles and toward their own and the majority culture. Includes extensive data on television viewing behavior.

Frey, R. D., & Allen, M. (1989). Alaskan Native Games: A Cross-Cultural Addition to the Physical Education Curriculum. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 60(9), 21-24. Describes several Alaska Native games that have been successfully used with K-6 students in Anchorage. Includes teaching tips.

Gallagher, A. F., et al. (1988). The Evolving Constitution: K-7 Strategies. Update on Law Related Education, 12(3), 38-42. Reviews children's literature dealing with prejudice, the Black experience, and other cultures. Presents a lesson plan for Grades 5-7 exploring White and Indian perspectives on the issue of land.

Goldman, M. (1980). The Pueblo Revolt of 1680: A Set of Materials for Classroom Learning. Santa Fe, NM: Locally Developed Learning Materials. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 209 007-microfiche only). This curriculum project for secondary school students includes student materials, a teacher's guide, and a play about the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, as well as maps, charts, and tests. Skill lessons lead students through a series of steps to good social studies essay writing.

Grubis, S. F. (1986). Teaching in the Alaskan Village: The Challenge. Rural Educator, 7(2),17-20. Describes Alaskan village culture, and gives examples of ways that ignorance about the culture can interfere with a teacher's effectiveness in the community. Suggests a coping strategy of "skillful inaction," in which the newcomer settles into the village and learns by listening and watching.

Guilmet, G. M. (1984, March). American Indian and Alaska Native Education for High Technology: A Research Strategy for Creating Culturally Based Physical Science and Mathematics Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 269 218). Suggests that Native Americans use many formal science and mathematics principles while engaging in subsistence activities, and that their children acquire a latent understanding of these principles through observation of and participation in these common cultural activities. Proposes ethnographic and Piagetian research methods to assess science and mathematics knowledge among the Tlingit of southeast Alaska.

Haines, R. M. (Comp.), et al. (1985). Native American-Eskimo Media Skills Handbook. Rockville, MD: Montgomery County Public Schools. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 259 864). Covers library, reference, and media skills for Grades K-9 using information about Native Americans and Eskimos. Includes worksheets, student activities, and a selected bibliography of information on Native Americans.

Hultkrantz, A., et al. (1981). Shoshones in the Rocky Mountain Area. Student Workbook. Ethete, WY: Wyoming Indian High School. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 231561). Provides secondary school students with information on the history, culture, and lifestyles of various Shoshone groups. Includes student activities, study questions, and Shoshone and English vocabulary.

Indian Affiliates, Inc. (1983). Computer-Aided Instruction in Education Basics for Indian Students. Final Report, Phase 1. Orem, UT: Author. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 247 054). Describes the initial design and planning phase of a three-phase project to adapt, develop, and evaluate computer-aided instructional materials in elementary education basics (word recognition, reading comprehension, and mathematics) for Alaska Native and American Indian students.

Kleinfeld, J. S., et al. (1985). Alaska's Small Rural High Schools: Are They Working? Abridged Edition. Fairbanks, AK: University of Alaska Institute of Social and Economic Research. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 264 989). Summarizes data on Alaska's 162 small high schools (serving less than 100 students, mostly Alaska Natives). Identifies educational problems and correlates of success. Describes educational programs and improvement strategies.

Kleinfeld, J. S., et al. (1985). Alaska's Small Rural High Schools. Are They Working? ISER Report Series No. 58. Fairbanks, AK: University of Alaska Institute of Social and Economic Research. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 266 915). Provides extensive data on Alaska's 162 small high schools (serving less than 100 students, mostly Alaska Natives). Includes achievement scores, statistics, correlates of school effectiveness, and descriptions of educational programs and improvement strategies.

Kosnick, S. (1981). American Indian Enrichment Activities. Mini-Review. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 287 658). Focusing on American Indians, this annotated bibliography covers a variety of activities resources for enriching multicultural education in the elementary classroom. Contains 26 entries.

Lipka, J. (1990). Integrating Cultural Form and Content in One Yup'ik Eskimo Classroom: A Case Study. Canadian Journal of Native Education, 17(2),18-32. Analyzes an exemplary lesson in which a Yup'ik first grade teacher contextualized the lesson by choosing a cultural activity, using a teaching method of teacher demonstration and student observation, and emphasizing the importance of the activity to community and kin.

Lipka, J. (1987). A Simulation: Native Corporation Business Ventures. Canadian Journal of Native Education, 14(2), 27-41. Describes a simulation game based on the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and used in several Alaska secondary schools. Students analyze financial investments, interpret resource maps, consider subsistence values, and make complex decisions.

Madsen, E., et al. (1981). A Catalog of Educational Resources in Communication Arts, Cultural Ecology, and Environmental Studies for the Small High School Teacher. Curriculum Resources for the Alaskan Environment. Fairbanks, AK: University of Alaska Center for Cross-Cultural Studies. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 233 843). Semi-annotated topical listings of 740 curriculum resources in communication arts, cultural ecology, and environmental studies, published 1960-80, for use in small Alaska high schools. Includes sections on Native Americans and Native corporations.

Moore (Oklahoma) Public Schools. (1990). Cultural Projects. Indian Education Program. Revised. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 330 517). Describes eight American Indian cultural activities for Grades K-6.

Morrow, P. (1987). Making the Best of Two Worlds: An Anthropological Approach to the Development of Bilingual Education Materials in Southwestern Alaska. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 323 065). Describes a bilingual-bicultural secondary education program designed by an anthropologist with the collaboration of Yupik teachers. Provides background on Yupik culture and language. Discusses in detail several student projects encompassing personal values; Yupik tradition; and current social, economic, and political conditions.

Morton, T. (1990). Pyramids and Buffalo Jumps: An Exercise Combining Inquiry with Cooperative Learning. History and Social Science Teacher, 25(4), 202-208. Presents a social studies lesson, based on inquiry and cooperative learning principles, that asks secondary school students to hypothesize about the mystery of an Indian buffalo jump. Provides clues and topographical maps for the HeadSmashed-In jump in Alberta, Canada.

Ovando, C. J. (1984). School and Community Attitudes in an Athapaskan Bush Village. Educational Research Quarterly, 8(4),12-29. Compares the attitudes of students, parents, and teachers in an Alaska Native village toward education, community, ethnic identity, vision of the future, and ideal individual and school roles.

Price, M. B. (1977). Science and Appalachia. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 209 055). A guide for secondary school science teachers describes some early Appalachian Indian and White practices for survival and subsistence, and outlines experiments to demonstrate the scientific principles involved.

Ross, C., et al. (1987). Teaching about Thanksgiving. Second Edition. Olympia, WA: Office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 283 660). Features a historically accurate story of Thanksgiving for Grades K-6, historical background for teachers, and cultural activities.

Stofflet, F. P., et al. (1990). The Alaska Statewide Assessment: Implementation and Outcome, 1989. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 323 050). Includes the results of Alaska's October 1989 statewide assessment of over 23,000 students in Grades 4, 6, and 8 using the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills. Correlates school achievement scores with school, student, and community characteristics.

Stutzman, E. (1981). The American Indian Social Studies Curriculum Activity Guide, K-6. Coos Bay, OR: Coos Bay School District. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 214 736). Presents cultural background and classroom activities related to six major Indian cultural regions in the United States. Reviews elementary social studies textbooks from seven publishers with regard to Native American content and quality.

Taylor, L., et al. (1991). American Indians, Mathematical Attitudes, and the Standards. Arithmetic Teacher, 38(6), 14-21. Presents activities that incorporate American Indian culture into the teaching of elementary and middle-school mathematics. Discusses tessellations (which merge artistic creativity and geometric exploration) and the use of Pascal's triangle.


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Barnhardt, R. (1990). Two cultures, one school. Canadian Journal of Native Education, 17(2), 54-65.

Barnhardt, R. (1985, December). Domestication of the ivory tower: Institutional adaptation to cultural distance. Paper presented at the meeting for the American Anthropological Association, Washington, DC.

Bettelheim, B. (1976). The uses of enchantment. New York: Alfred A. Knopf

Bighorse, T. (1990). Bighorse, the warrior. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona.

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Boas, F. (1940). Race, language and culture. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago.

Bourdieu, P., & Passeron, J. C. (1977). Reproduction in education, society and culture. Translated from French by R. Nice. London, England: Sage.

Brandt, E. A. & Ayoungman, A. (1989). Language renewal and language maintenance. Canadian Journal of Native Education, 16(2).

Brown, D. (1970). Bury my heart at Wounded Knee: an Indian history of the American West. New York: Bantam Books.

BUNTED Staff. (1990, revised 1991). Brandon University Northern Teacher Education Program: Task Force Report. Brandon, MB (Canada): Brandon University.

Carnegie Foundation for the Assessment of Teaching. (1989). Tribal Colleges: Shaping the future of Native America. Princeton, NJ: Author.

Clifton, J. A. (Ed.). (1990). The invented Indian: Cultural fictions and government policies. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publications.

Coles, A. S. (1978). Racism: The evolution of a concept. Reading, MA: Institution Community Change, Inc. Report No. 0.000018887. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 163151)

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About the Authors

Agnes Grant has worked with Native teacher training programs in Manitoba, Canada, since 1972. Her work takes her to remote and isolated communities. Grant's areas of expertise lie in cross-cultural education with particular reference to Native American cultures, and she has done pioneering work in the area of Canadian Native literature. She has published extensively in this area, most recently compiling an anthology of Canadian Native literature, called Our Bit of Truth. She is married and is the mother of four children (one of whom is a Saulteaux Indian) and the grandmother of eight.

LaVina Gillespie, a Cree Native, is a master of education student at Brandon University in Manitoba, Canada. Gillespie was born and raised in a remote, Northern, Cree-speaking community. Though a highly-proficient student, memories of her school years are dominated by the humiliation and pain she felt as she was repeatedly beaten black and blue for speaking Cree. As a result of her unpleasant experiences, she entered the teaching profession with the hope that she can make school a better and more worthwhile experience for children. Her special research interests are in the area of first language retention and the self-concepts of children. She is married with two sons and one American grandchild.

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