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Navajo Continues Life's Work With AICF

Navajo Nation member will administer early education program for Native American children for the American Indian College Fund.
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Early this year W.K. Kellogg Foundation gave the American Indian College Fund (AICF) $5 million for the Wakanyeja “Sacred Little Ones” Early Childhood Development Initiative.

The program is funded for five years and is intended to:

  • improve young Native American students’ skill acquisition
  • prepare them for grades K-12 and post-secondary education
  • improve the quality of early childhood teachers in Native communities
  • bridge early childhood and K-3 education
  • integrate Native language and culture into early childhood curriculum
  • empower Native families and communities as change agents in education for their children

In March, AICF started looking for someone to administer the program, and they finally found someone who fits the bill.

Tarajean Yazzie-Mintz, Navajo, will continue her “lifetime of work—in both research and practice—focused on the ways in which teachers incorporate language and culture in the education of Native children,” says an AICF press release.

Before earning the AICF position, Yazzie-Mintz was an assistant professor of curriculum and instruction at the Indiana University School of Education in Bloomington, Indiana.

Her parents—Albert A. Yazzie and Bessi B. Yazzie—are both Navajo educators and paved the way for their daughter to follow in their footsteps. She was born in Ganado, Arizona on the Navajo Reservation and educated in Navajo schools and a Quaker boarding school. She got her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Arizona State University in psychology and education psychology, respectively. To get her doctorate, Yazzie attended Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education in Learning and Teaching.

According to the press release, “Yazzie-Mintz has been the recipient of numerous professional awards and honors and four competitive grants and fellowships; has presented at more than 40 scholarly meetings and symposia; and has been published in 22 scholarly publications focusing on education.”