The American Indian College Fund brought 72 higher education staff and faculty, early childhood educators, and student interns from across Turtle Island to Denver, Colorado from June 19-20 for the 4th Annual Tribal College and University Faculty Research Conference to explore the role of indigenous knowledge in education curriculum.
To mark the occasion, the American Indian College Fund released the Tribal College and University Research Journal Volume I, Issue 2. The journal was first published by the American Indian College Fund with help from the Lilly Endowment in 2016. It features tribal college and university faculty research as well as articles from a variety of fields like science, program development, and student success.
Attendees at the conference discussed how culturally based learning can benefit Native American students and how Native knowledge can be restored in education, from early childhood to higher education.
During the conference, sessions were focused on ways to base classroom learning in Native teachings, which is especially important at tribal colleges and universities, where the majority of conference attendees work and teach. Tribal colleges were created by tribes to provide higher education that is accessible to Native American communities. “Studies have proven that culturally based learning increases students’ self-esteem, mental and physical well-being, and academic performance—all helping students to overcome challenges they face in their communities,” states a press release from the American Indian College Fund.
There were a wide range of session topics at the conference like integrating visual pedagogy into the classroom at tribal colleges and universities, increasing student learning in algebra classrooms, using videos to enhance learning, the role of indigenous knowledge in increasing health and wellness in Native communities through the American Indian College Fund’s Restorative Teachings program, developing curriculum based in place for science and math, and a workshop focused on setting a course for flourishing and change. Attendees also learned how to make a parfleche, a traditional Plains item made from buffalo hide.
Cheryl Crazy Bull, President and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, said, “Relationships are at the heart of indigenous knowledge and being able to convene in ways that allow expert sharing of information improves the quality of relationships among faculty and affirms their expertise. The College Fund is honored to provide a forum for faculty to be recognized for their contributions to new knowledge and to the restoration of traditional tribal knowledge.”