Skip to main content

Indian culture a strength, not 'deficit'

Your editorial, ''America's best education keeps Indian children down'' [Vol. 27, Iss. 7], reflects age-old struggles we have faced in the education of American Indians and Alaska Natives for years. We continue to fight for teaching methods, curriculum materials and educators that promote and provide culturally relevant education for our students in public and Bureau of Indian Education-sponsored schools. Too often the ''systems'' view tribal languages, cultures and values as ''deficits'' to learning; rather than recognizing them as strengths that can help students achieve success in all subjects, including math and reading, while strengthening their Indian identity.

The latest attack on Indian education, as mentioned in the editorial, is the No Child Left Behind Act and its implementation in schools. It is punitive in nature; too often labeling schools (and students) as ''failing'' while providing little positive or monetary support. The emphasis on testing and making adequate yearly progress has become the main focus in classrooms, so that tribal languages and cultures are not only left behind but pushed out of schools.

NCLB is going to be reauthorized by Congress this or next year. I encourage tribal government leadership, along with educators to get involved and let Congress know that the inclusion of tribal languages and cultures in schools is what we want for our students along with science, math and reading.

- John Tippeconnic III

Scroll to Continue

Read More

State College, Pa.