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NATIVE AMERICAN FOCUS ON COLLEGE READINESS SOUTHWESTERN REGIONAL FORUM Frisco, Texas January 31, 2008 Valeria Littlecreek Director of Tribal Affairs/ Indian.

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Presentation on theme: "NATIVE AMERICAN FOCUS ON COLLEGE READINESS SOUTHWESTERN REGIONAL FORUM Frisco, Texas January 31, 2008 Valeria Littlecreek Director of Tribal Affairs/ Indian."— Presentation transcript:

1 NATIVE AMERICAN FOCUS ON COLLEGE READINESS SOUTHWESTERN REGIONAL FORUM Frisco, Texas January 31, 2008 Valeria Littlecreek Director of Tribal Affairs/ Indian Education Oklahoma State Department of Education

2 21st CENTURY EDUCATION Accountability is a key factor Closing the achievement gaps is a major issue Challenges for teachers are greater –NCLB mandates –State standards and assessments –Meeting AYP –English Language Learners –Student Diversity –Effective learning for all students

3 Are Schools Successful? Are needs of American Indian, Alaska Natives & Native Hawaiian students being met? Do the teaching approaches & curriculum reflect Native cultures, traditions and languages? Do they have access to highly qualified teachers? Are they exposed to a rigorous curriculum? Are they served with high expectations? Are they prepared to graduate with the skills needed to be successful in college?

4 ARE SCHOOLS SUCCESSFUL? More than not, the answer is NO! The high dropout rate, low graduation rates, remediation in college and other factors support this answer. Why is this important? Lets review some background.

5 CULTURALLY DIVERSE STUDENTS Native American students have unique, cultural, language and educational needs. They have values, beliefs, practices and ways of behaving that is directly opposite to what is taught and reinforced in school.

6 CULTURALLY DIVERSE STUDENTS Some general characteristics of American Indian students: Time: Exactness of time is not important. Indian people often live in the here and now with little concern for the future. The concept of Indian Time is often viewed as a sign of indifference. Eye Contact: Indian children are taught that it is disrespectful to look at someone directly. Looking down is a sign of respect.

7 CULTURALLY DIVERSE STUDENTS Sense of Humor: Indian children are deep rooted in their ability to laugh at life and often are misunderstood. Patience: Indian children are taught it is best to take their time in the work they do and to wait quietly.

8 CULTURALLY DIVERSE STUDENTS Wait Time: Indian children are taught to think about a question before responding. If the student is familiar with the native language, then the response time may be longer. In the classroom, the Indian student may never get a chance to speak. Communication: Indian children are taught not to be so verbal, but to learn by observing and listening.

9 CULTURALLY DIVERSE STUDENTS Competition: individual glory was not acceptable. Most changed value. Clans: students may belong to tribal clans named for natural phenomenon and must show respect towards their clan. Ceremonies: students may be gifted and talented in tribal singing, dancing & other ceremonies and never mention their activities. Religion: Indian students have a spirituality and a close connection with nature. Oral stories were the tradition for teaching various lessons.

10 CULTURALLY DIVERSE STUDENTS Extended Family : Indian students may be raised by grandparents and have a strong extended family situation. They may have several grandparents and brothers and sisters for cousins are not acknowledged. Taboos: many things are forbidden in the tribal cultures. –Some females in tribes do not touch Eagle feathers. –Owls are bad certain time of the omens for many tribes. –Some foods cannot be eaten at certain times a year. –Some students may be hesitant to dissect in science class.

11 STEREOTYPES AND MYTHS All tribes speak the same language. (Each of the 500 + Tribes have a distinct language.) All Indian people are the same. All tribes lived in tipis. Pow-wows (not an Indian term) and stomp dances are places for drug & alcohol usage. All Indian people wear feather headdresses. (Definitely not true.)

12 STEREOTYPES AND MYTHS All Indian people hunted buffalo. Indian people dont have a religion and are pagans. Indian dancers wear Costumes. This is rude. Clowns and Halloween spooks wear costumes. Regalia, Indian dress, Dance outfits are acceptable terms. Number 1 untruth of all time… Indian people get everything FREE (health, education, etc) and do not pay taxes!

13 HOW AMERICAN INDIAN STUDENTS LEARN Most American Indian students are visual learners. They have learned by observing and imitating. They also learn best when instruction is active, uses a combination of the senses, and relevant to their experiences. Therefore, they are mostly kinesthetic learners. American Indian students work best in groups and learning from each other.

14 HOW AMERICAN INDIAN STUDENTS LEARN American Indian students are whole concept learners. They understand better when they start with the whole and then move to the details. Use storytelling in the classroom as a means of introducing reading, writing and teaching of proper behavior. Life was always explained through oral traditions. They learn best when art expression is adapted to their learning.

15 WHY IS THIS CULTURAL AWARENESS IMPORTANT? Teachers can no longer continue to use methodology that covers one size fits all. American Indian students educational needs are not being met. American Indian students have always been in classrooms and teachers have not realized that they have a completely different orientation in life. If American Indian students are not being taught in ways that adapt to their learning styles, then they are not being taught effectively and allowed to reach their full potential. The foundation for college readiness does not exist.

16 WHY IS THIS CULTURAL AWARENESS IMPORTANT? Using relevant cultural resources and materials within the curriculum will help to develop the strengths of American Indian students…one of them being self esteem. American Indian students will achieve if they like who they are and are proud of their heritage and identity. Academic achievement is directly related to a good self-concept.

17 BARRIERS THAT EXIST Coupled with the lack of appropriate teaching strategies, these barriers can prevent the American Indian student from proper preparation for any postsecondary institution. Most American Indian students qualify for the Free & Reduced lunch program. They live in an environment surrounded by negative factors ( drug abuse, violence, etc). Many have low expectations and do not achieve academically, though they are capable. They may attend low-performing schools that lack resources and counselors.

18 BARRIERS THAT EXIST Teachers and counselors may not encourage efforts to pursue postsecondary education. American Indian students may not be encouraged to take rigorous courses or AP exams. They may not be provided information on college access & financial aid resources. They may be lacking in appropriate preparation for math, reading and English. They may not have adequate test-taking skills.

19 WHAT DO AMERICAN INDIAN STUDENTS NEED? Appropriate use of cultural/language resources and materials in the curriculum Teachers who are aware of cultural needs, learning styles and provide appropriate teaching strategies Avenues to develop pride, honor, respect, responsibility, leadership, goal-setting skills Awareness of tribal government and history and other issues

20 WHAT DO AMERICAN INDIAN STUDENTS NEED? Identification with other American Indian role models that are positive, cultural, and successful in the dominant society. School counselors who will encourage students to take AP courses and exams. School counselors who will guide the preparation for college, financial aid, testing and other pertinent process steps.

21 CONTACT INFORMATION Valeria Littlecreek Director of Tribal Affairs Indian Education Section, Suite 429 Oklahoma State Department of Education 2500 North Lincoln Boulevard Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105-4599 Phone: (405) 522-1591 Fax: (405) 522-1519 Email:

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