Gov. Hickenlooper, Commission release report on the Study of American Indian Representations in Public Schools

DENVER — Monday, April 18, 2016 — Gov. John Hickenlooper and the Governor’s Commission to Study American Indian Representation in Public Schools today released their final report on the use of mascots and imagery in Colorado public schools. The group was joined by William (Bill) Mendoza, the executive director of White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education.

“This Commission has charted a path forward for Colorado with a willingness to work together through conversation and collaboration,” said Hickenlooper. “We are grateful to everyone who participated in this process. Their hard work gives us all a better understanding of each other and the complexities of this issue.”

Representatives from federally recognized tribes, Colorado’s American Indian population, institutions of public education, state agencies, and community stakeholders make up the 15 member commission. The Commission was created by the governor in 2015 through executive order.

After five months of community meetings and discussion, the Commission established four guiding principles that can be taken on by local communities, educational institutions, state agencies and organizations. The four guiding principles that are outlined in the report include:

  • The elimination of derogatory and offensive American Indian mascots, imagery, and names and a strong recommendation for communities to review their depictions in facilitated public forums.
  • The recognition and respect of Tribal sovereignty and a strong recommendation for schools to enter into formal relationships with federally recognized tribe to retain their American Indian imagery.
  • The recognition and respect of local control by elected boards of education and an active involvement of local communities, students, and citizens around the topic of American Indian mascots.
  • A strong educational focus and outreach.

“Through participation in this Commission, our tribe was able to see the lack of education and awareness around American Indian history and culture in Colorado’s public schools,” said Chairman Clement Frost, Southern Ute Indian Tribe. “We believe it is incumbent upon our Tribe, the State of Colorado, and Colorado public schools to recognize the role of American Indians in Colorado’s history and to ensure that this history is taught comprehensively and accurately.”

The Commission was invited by four communities with American Indian mascots to engage in a discussion about the ongoing struggle for local traditions versus the desire to treat American Indians respectfully and honor their history and culture.

“The recommendations made by Governor Hickenlooper and the Commission are not only needed and appropriate, they are consistent with the concerns raised by native youth across the country, who are calling upon education decision-makers to address harmful Native-themed imagery so that all students,  particularly Native Americans, experience a safe and welcoming school environment,” said William (Bill) Mendoza, executive director,  White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education.

“As an administrator, emphasizing respect for all cultures and for all people is one of our most important educational missions,” said Jeff Rasp Principal at Strasburg High School. “Our partnership with the Arapaho tribe has been one of the most beneficial experiences ever for our school.”

“The use of American Indian mascots creates an opportunity for schools and tribes to engage in meaningful relationships with one another,” said Chairman Manuel Heart, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe. “Schools like Strasburg High School are positive examples of a way in which the use of a mascot can be the catalyst for fostering a respectful, educational, and unique partnership that also acknowledges the sovereignty of American Indian nations.”

To see a full copy of the report, please visit here.

Eight Tribes Receive Nearly $2.5 Million in Grants; Funds Help Tribes Take Control of Own Educational Programs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Eight federally recognized tribes will collectively receive nearly $2.5 million in grant awards from the U.S. Departments of Education and Interior to bolster their educational programs and advance self-determination goals through the development of academically rigorous and culturally relevant programs.

William Mendoza, director of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education, and Dr. Charles “Monty” Roessel, director of the  Bureau of Indian Education announced the awards today, during the seventh annual White House Tribal Nations Conference. The grants are funded through the Department of Education’s State-Tribal Education Partnership (STEP) program, and the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Education’s Tribal Education Department (TED) program.

“Through these partnerships, we will be putting tribes in the driver’s seat by designing culturally responsive programs to help Native children reach their education potential,” Mendoza said. “These efforts will help reduce the achievement gap and make our Indian students more college and career-ready.” “These competitive grants will help strengthen tribal education departments as they set high academic standards and incorporate tribal culture, language and history into their curriculum,” said Roessel. “This program reflects our commitment to tribal self-determination. It expands tribes’ roles in developing educational goals for their communities and ensuring they have the resources to operate these systems designed for their students.”

The goal of the STEP program is to build the capacity of tribal education agencies to assume state and local administrative functions based on policies formed under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The TED grant program was created to improve the quality of education in BIE-funded schools under the auspices of a Blueprint for Reform, a guide put forth by President Obama and developed in the White House Council on Native American Affairs. The report was developed based on contributions from tribal governments and key federal and tribal officials.

The STEP program provides $1,766,232 to five Native American communities in Idaho, Montana and Oklahoma to assist tribal schools in partnering with states and local school districts to develop culturally sensitive teaching strategies, curriculum materials and data-sharing that can improve attendance, raise graduation rates and reduce dropouts among Native youth. STEP’s pilot program, featuring tribal-state-local educational partnerships was conducted from 2012 to 2015, and today’s announcement marks the first new round of funding for the STEP program. The grants provide funding from 2015 to 2019. For more information about the STEP program, visit www2.ed.gov/programs/step/index.html.

The TED program provides $700,000 in grants to support the efforts of four tribal nations by strengthen their education departments, restructure their school governance, assume control over their BIE-funded schools, and develop curriculum for their students’ unique academic and cultural needs. With today’s announcement, 10 tribal governments have received a total of $2 million in TED grants this year. This is the second round of TED program grants the Interior Department has awarded this year. The first round of awards in August 2015 provided a total of $1,350,000 to six tribes: the Acoma Pueblo, Santa Clara Pueblo, Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. For more information on TED grants, please visit http://bie.edu/Programs/TribalEduDeptGrantProgram/index.htm.

The following tribes will receive STEP funding. (One tribe, the Muscogee Creek Nation in Oklahoma, was awarded the STEP and TED grants):

  • The Chickasaw Nation, Okla. ($500,000)
  • Nez Perce Tribe, Idaho ($330,000)
  • Coeur D’Alene Tribe, Idaho ($330,000)
  • The Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Okla. ($318,463)
  • Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Mont. ($287,769)

The following tribes will receive TED funding:

  • Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Mich. ($300,000)
  • Leech Lake Band, Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Minn. ($200,000)
  • Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, Miss. ($150,000)
  • The Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Okla. ($50,000)

As part of the Interior Department, the BIE oversees 183 elementary and secondary schools located on 64 reservations in 23 states, serving more than 48,000 students. Of these, 54 are BIE-operated and 129 are tribally operated.

In conjunction with President Obama’s Generation Indigenous or “Gen-I” initiative, the Interior Department is leading an effort to provide students attending BIE-funded schools with a world-class education and transform the agency to serve as a capacity-builder and service-provider for tribes in educating their youth.

White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education Stakeholder Call

TOPIC: SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT LISTENING SESSIONS FINAL REPORT
U.S. Department of Education


On October 15, White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education (WHIAIANE) released a school environment report called the School Environment Listening Sessions Final Report. The report was released and announced by William Mendoza, Executive Director of WHIAIANE at the National Indian Education Association’s Convention in Portland, Oregon.

As part of the school environment listening sessions WHIAIANE heard from Native youth, schools and communities on ways to better meet the unique educational and culturally-related academic needs of Native American students.

Throughout the sessions, WHIAIANE collected information about the challenges related to school environment including bullying, student discipline, potentially harmful Native American imagery and symbolism, and the implications of all of these school environment issues.

The School Environment Listening Sessions Final Report is a summary of the findings from the October and November 2014 listening sessions. It identifies common issues and suggests recommendations to address the concerns shared by teachers, parents, community members, and students.

Please join us for a brief conference call about the contents of this report. The Department of Education press release is available on the ed.gov website. The School Environment Listening Sessions Final Report on the WHIAIANE website under the Native Youth Environment Initiative tab.

October 29, 2015
1:00pm – 2:00pm EST
Number: 1-888-946-3504
Participant Passcode: 6958855

For more information, click here.