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Tribal Languages and Cultures Face Eradication

The Meriam Report (Meriam, Brown, Cloud, Dale, Duke, Edwards, Mckenzie, Mark, Ryan, & Spillman, 1928; Prucha, 2000) called for certain inputs and shifts for change in educating the Indigenous student. Both mainstream and Indigenous rights movements attest to the growing body of evidence that culturally responsive models for American Indian education can improve academic success (Brayboy & Castagno, 2009).


Educators toiling in American Indian communities have long recognized the connections between culturally responsive practices and affirmations of tribal sovereignty (Beaulieu, 2006; Castagno & Brayboy, 2008; Lomawaima & McCarty, 2006). Lomawaima (2000) writes, “Sovereignty is the bedrock upon which any and every discussion of [American] Indian reality today must be built” (p. 3), and (McCarty and Lee, 2014) argue that “tribal sovereignty must include education sovereignty” (p. 102).


The educational journey of native people is one spanning two distinct value systems and world-views. It is a journey in which the American Indian sacred view inevitably collides with the reality of existing in the larger American society (Deloria & Wildcat, 2001). Scholars such as Delpit (1988, 1995), Ladson-Billings (1994, 1995a, 1995b) argue that students who are knowledgeable about and comfortable within both the mainstream culture and their home cultures are better able to balance the demands of both worlds (Sleeter and Grant, 2003).


Some scholars believe that tribal languages and cultures are an important aspect in the education of native youth and that American Indian children should have an opportunity to learn their culture and language to preserve their tribal identities while learning about traditional values from elders (Agbo, 2001, 2004).


IINII uses a revolutionary Design Thinking process to help your school community gain an understanding of one’s sense of self, as well as developing an understanding of students’ values; having an understanding of one’s values matters because research has shown that it is linked to better well-being, less stress, and increased confidence in one’s ability to succeed.


Understanding students’ values can be developed with culturally sustaining practices that reflect a student’s identity and experience. Particularly helpful is focusing efforts on cultural competence and relevance and providing opportunities for students to practice bridging differences between diverse identities in a safe environment. To learn how you can create a dynamic learning environment that honors your student community, visit our website at www.iinii.org, or contact us at iinii@iinii.org or 1800-507-2502.




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