Native Education Collaborative

Together, we can create school environments where Native students thrive. The collaborative provides resources to connect state education agencies (SEAs), tribal education agencies, tribal representatives, local education agencies, and schools. These resources: 

  • Integrate knowledge from indigenous educators and the strengths of students’ Native communities
  • Offer a place to start conversations with SEAs to foster understanding of Native student education 
  • Provide the flexibility to adapt to individual states

Getting Oriented to The Native Education Collaborative

The process explores six categories to support Native students’ educational needs. Each section below provides infographics, an in-depth brief, a summary of the brief, and additional resources. Use the navigation on the left to access resources and links by topic.

CCNetwork Resources

Resources to Help States Advance Education for Native Students: Circles of Reflection

The Native Education Collaborative developed the Circles of Reflection to engage SEAs, tribes, and LEAs in rich, reflective discussions and strategic planning to provide high quality, motivating educational experiences that improve Native students’ academic attainment. This document provides detailed information and instructions for using the Circles of Reflection efficiently and effectively 

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Considering Native Students: A Learning and Programming Toolkit for SEAs, LEAs, and Tribes

The National Comprehensive Center created this toolkit to support State Education Agencies (SEAs), Local Education Agencies (LEAs), and Tribal Education Departments (TEDs) when developing learning and programming that will advance education for Native students. The toolkit provides considerations and guidance for SEAs, LEAs, and TEDs to use when planning, implementing, and evaluating programming for Native students. SEAs, LEAs and TEDs should use the information in the toolkit in collaboration with each other to help ensure successful and effective programming for Native students.

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Tribal Consultation Toolkit
The Tribal Consultation Toolkit includes tools and resources focused on tribal consultation and sovereignty developed by the National Comprehensive Center’s Native Education Collaborative. The U.S. Department of Education's American Rescue Plan Act Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ARP ESSER) calls for intentional inclusion and collaboration among various stakeholders supporting students, specifically naming Tribes as necessary partners in deciding how to use the funds to address students’ needs. This toolkit contains resources for states, tribes, districts and schools to build those critical connections and engage in meaningful consultations as described in the ARP ESSER and required by ESEA.

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Native Education Resources
This list of resources will help build state education agencies’ (SEAs) capacity to improve the learning lives of indigenous children and youth. These resources are designed to enhance the effectiveness of SEAs as they collaborate with tribal education departments (TEDs) or tribal education agencies (TEAs), tribal representatives, and local education agencies (LEAs). The resources are organized into six categories of state support for indigenous education: Native Culture and Language; Tribal Consultation and Sovereignty; Teachers and Leaders; College and Career Readiness and Access; Physical and Behavioral Health; and Promising Programs and Practices.

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Native Culture & Language

Native education is rooted in the cultures and languages indigenous to North America. State education agencies (SEAs) can help build American Indian and Alaska Native student connectedness to their school by integrating Native culture and language into the teaching and learning process. This integration fosters strong connections between what students experience in schools with their lives outside of school. It also promotes interest in learning academic content by making connections to students' home community. 

SEAs can also provide rigorous, standards-aligned instructional resources and professional learning opportunities for teachers that focus on culturally responsive and culture-based curriculum, instructional practices, assessments, and appropriate supports that foster well-being of Native students.

CCNetwork Resources

Native Culture and Language: Culture Quick Reference
This quick reference highlights the importance of Native culture, summarizing important facets of cultural identity, biological identity, and legal/political identity. The guide suggests 4 practical steps to nativize classrooms, stressing that inclusion strategies will sustain and revitalize local cultures which benefit both Native and non-Native students.

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Native Culture and Language Brief
This brief provides key insights and examples of the work accomplished in Native education across the United States to revitalize and strengthen Native cultures and languages. This brief focuses on the following themes: history and culture in curriculum for all students; place-based tribal history and culture; place-based tribal language and language immersion, and culture-based and culturally responsive teaching.

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Native Culture and Language Infographic
This infographic boldly illustrates Native American language status, fluency, and immersion program structure. Of 500 original native languages, 200 are still in use today and there are 34 Native languages taught to children as a first language.

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External Resources

Tribal Consultation & Sovereignty

Tribal sovereignty refers to the right of American Indian and Alaska Native tribes to determine their own future. Tribes have the right to operate as self-governing nations through their elected tribal governments. 


Tribes have the right to educate their citizens. As sovereign nations, tribes exercise autonomy over education, such as by participating in decision-making for local schools serving Native students, developing and selecting culturally relevant curricula, and identifying advisory council members to ensure schools make the right decisions on behalf of Native students. 


The Every Student Succeeds Act requires that State Education Agencies (SEAs) and Local Education Agencies (LEAs) consult with tribes about the education of Native students in matters related to fiscal planning, budgeting, education resources, and culturally relevant program evaluation to measure effectiveness. 

CCNetwork Resources

Tribal Consultation Toolkit
The Tribal Consultation Toolkit includes tools and resources focused on tribal consultation and sovereignty developed by the National Comprehensive Center’s Native Education Collaborative. The U.S. Department of Education's American Rescue Plan Act Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ARP ESSER) calls for intentional inclusion and collaboration among various stakeholders supporting students, specifically naming Tribes as necessary partners in deciding how to use the funds to address students’ needs. This toolkit contains resources for states, tribes, districts and schools to build those critical connections and engage in meaningful consultations as described in the ARP ESSER and required by ESEA.

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Tribal Sovereignty and Consultation: Tribal Education Quick Reference
This quick reference highlights tribal educational rights and educational approaches, covering tribal citizenship, traditional educational values, and tribal management of schools.

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Tribal Sovereignty and Consultation Infographic
This infographic summarizes statistics regarding Native student school attendance, federal obligations to Native education, and boarding schools. The document also briefly outlines tribal educational rights and common tribal educational values.

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Tribal Sovereignty and Consultation: Collaboration with Tribes
This brief provides an in-depth assessment of tribal sovereignty regarding education and tribal educational consultation. The authors place tribal sovereignty in a historical context along with historical trauma for all Native people.

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External Resources

Promising Programs & Practices

States have the resources to identify innovative local programs that show promise, support their further development, and disseminate information about them across the state. Efforts such as these assign importance to the identification and support of promising programs and practices that exist throughout schools, including those initiated by tribes, schools, districts, and resource partners.

CCNetwork Resources

Promising Programs and Practices Brief
This brief provides contextual information and descriptions of select programs and practices serving Native students, focusing on state identification and support, representing Native student interest, and featuring locally created examples.

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Promising Programs and Practices: Support of Native Education Quick Reference
This factsheet reminds state leaders that promising practices for Native education should focus on the resourcefulness, resilience, and expertise of Native communities.

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Promising Programs and Practices: Program Examples
This 2-page factsheet offers examples of programs that focus on the resourcefulness, resilience, and expertise of Native education. Programs described include College Horizons, Native Science Field Centers, Indian Education for All (IEFA) in Montana, Lakota Circles of Hope, the Healthy & Empowered Youth Project, and a few specific schools districts’ programs.

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External Resources

  • Stimulating Innovation (or Making Innovation Meaningful Again)

    The Center on Innovations in Learning’s Handbook on Innovations and Learning describes states’ intentional search for locally generated promising programs and practices.

  • Project Evident

    Project Evident offers services to states and districts focused on using evidence to improve decision making and drive better and more sustainable outcomes.

  • Proving Ground

    Proving Ground, out of Harvard University’s Center for Education Policy Research, helps states and districts identify and test evidence-based solutions to specific challenges to student achievement.

Effective Teachers & Leaders

Effective teachers and school leaders provide educational opportunities that prepare Native students to succeed in college and their careers. States can help in addressing gaps in the pipeline of qualified teachers and leaders through professional development and support for recruitment and retention. 

Ideally, teachers and leaders would share the same cultural background as the students, or Local Education Agencies (LEAs) would have high expectations of school staff to use culturally appropriate practices. 

Additionally, State Education Agencies (SEAs) could engage in efforts to interest Native students in pursuing education careers and work with colleges and universities (including tribal colleges) to recruit Native candidates for teacher education programs. SEAs could also provide professional learning opportunities on cultural relevance to all school staff. 

CCNetwork Resources

Teachers and Leaders Brief
This brief explores ways in which state education agencies, local education agencies, tribal education departments, schools, and educator preparation programs can support teachers and leaders as they preserve Native culture, knowledge, and language to improve the lives of Native children and youth. Specifically, this brief covers preparing and recruiting Native teachers and educational leaders; developing an Native knowledge educator preparation program curriculum and professional learning for current teachers; and certifying tribal speakers and culture experts to teach in schools.

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Teachers and Leaders: Native Teachers, Culture, and History Quick Reference
This quick reference describes the importance of Native teachers and educational leaders, stressing that all student learning is enhanced when it is rooted in historical and cultural knowledge.

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External Resources

  • American Indian Teacher Program

    The American Indian Teacher Program prepares indigenous students to become teachers for urban schools with significant numbers of indigenous students.
     

  • I LEAD Project

    Montana State University – Bozeman’s I LEAD project recruits, educates, certifies, and places indigenous educators into administrative positions in schools with high populations of indigenous students.

  • Indigenous Knowledge for Effective Education Program

    Indigenous Knowledge for Effective Education Program (IKEEP), at the University of Idaho, recruits and certifies culturally responsive indigenous teachers using a cohort model.

  • The Liber Institute

    The Liber Institute builds the leadership capacity of teachers and principals to redesign the cultural and instructional practices of schools. The Institute organizes its work in three interwoven strands: a culturally responsive teaching fellowship for teachers, transformational leadership coaching for school leaders, and a liberatory design lab focused on unearthing and incubating local approaches to building more equitable schools and institutions.

  • NACA Inspired Schools network

    The NACA Inspired Schools Network works with fellows who are committed to indigenous communities to establish schools throughout the country that will create strong leaders who are academically prepared, secure in their identities, healthy, and ultimately working to transform their communities.

  • Arizona Native American Language and Culture Certificate

    Arizona is one of several states offer Native American Language and Culture Certificates authorizing individuals to teach indigenous languages and cultures of specific tribes and pueblos.

  • New Mexico Native American Language and Culture Certificate

    New Mexico is one of several states offer Native American Language and Culture Certificates authorizing individuals to teach indigenous languages and cultures of specific tribes and pueblos.

  • Oregon Native American Language and Culture Certificate

    Oregon is one of several states offer Native American Language and Culture Certificates authorizing individuals to teach indigenous languages and cultures of specific tribes and pueblos.

  • Native Education Certificate Program

    The University of Washington School of Education’s Native Education Certificate Program is designed for students who plan to teach indigenous students.

  • Sapsikala (Teacher) Program

    The Sapsikala (Teacher) Program uses a cohort-within-a-cohort model for students to learn Indigenous methodologies for teaching while obtaining Oregon teacher licensure.

College & Career Readiness & Access

College and career preparation begin in pre-school and continue throughout the K-12 grades. Native students deserve schools that are attentive to their needs and aspirations. 

Students’ progress, relative to academic standards, should proceed in step with their expanding understanding of their continuing education and career choice possibilities. Schools give students pathways to enter fields beyond those that are immediately accessible in their local environment. 

State Education Agencies (SEAs) play a major role in setting standards, providing programs, and encouraging local efforts that build each student’s academic and personal competency. They also help shepherd the transition from K-12 to college and careers, such as by facilitating resource networks for Native students transitioning to college and working with tribes to identify culturally relevant career pathways.

CCNetwork Resources

College and Career Readiness and Access Brief
This brief describes traditional education before colonization, educational values for Native students, and how to support students’ future goals without asking them to compromise their cultural identity. The authors provide an overview of inequity and barriers to Native student academic success and ways to address them. Topics include how gifted and talented programs and advanced placement courses have impacted Native students; education strategies and career awareness in students from rural tribal communities; and how to access career pathways beyond locally available options.

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College and Career Readiness and Access: Improving Education Quick Reference
This quick reference provides areas for improving Native education and supporting Native students as they prepare for college and careers. After a section on overall themes, the document outlines practical strategies to improve the climate of Native education experiences.

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External Resources

  • The American Indian KnowledgeBase

    The American Indian KnowledgeBase, developed by the South Central Comprehensive Center, is an online resource for educators to use in closing the achievement gap for indigenous students.

  • The American Indian Measurable Success Initiative

    The American Indian Measurable Success Initiative implements the Colorado Legacy Schools Model to increase the number of indigenous students enrolling and succeeding in advanced placement math, science, and English courses.

  • College Horizons

    College Horizons is a 6-day “crash course” that prepares students for the college application process.

  • Policy Analysis: State and Federal Policy, Native American Youth

    The Education Commission of the States’ Policy Analysis: State and Federal Policy, Native American Youth, describes the indigenous youth population, educational challenges, and state and federal policies to address needs.

  • Project 3C

    Project 3C, funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Indian Education, provides indigenous students with experiences and skills necessary to: accomplish goals successfully; increase similarities between their interests and career choices; and broaden their college and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Behavioral Health

To create school environments with behavioral health supports that enhance the well-being of Native students, State Education Agencies (SEAs) can assist and encourage Local Education Agencies (LEAs) in the implementation of appropriate policies, practices, and programs that attend to students’ physical and social-emotional development and well-being. 

This approach includes instruction and support for all students and targeted interventions to help students suffering from the effects of trauma. To offset gaps in mental health for Native youth, SEAs can play a major role in providing support for early detection and prevention of mental illness through school-based services. 

Culturally appropriate strategies to improve physical and behavioral health are available, and SEAs can work with Tribal Education Departments (TEDs) and LEAs to increase awareness and high-quality implementation.

CCNetwork Resources

Behavioral Health Brief
This brief provides a holistic perspective of physical and behavioral health from a Native worldview. The richness, depth, and beauty of this perspective is much more than what can be observed in an educational setting. The authors consider how history affects the health of Native people today. This academic-level review focuses on the cultural aspects of physical and behavioral health.

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Behavioral Health: Tribal Best Practices Quick Reference
This factsheet summarizes the Native community strengths that contribute to tribal best practices in Behavioral Health. Topics include Circles of Care and wrap-around services, values and guiding principles.

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Behavioral Health: Cultural Opportunities
This 2-page infographic summarizes Native community strengths and how they can be incorporated into behavioral health opportunities. One section compares a Euro-American framework with the Native framework for behavioral health supports.

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Physical and Behavioral Health: You Have the Strength of 7 Generations
This infographic emphasizes the role of extended family in the four components of wrap-around services: engagement, initial plan development, plan implementation, and transitioning.

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External Resources