American Indian OIC (AIOIC) convened the Resurgence Gathering at Anahuacalmecac University Preparatory School in Los Angeles, California last week. Indigenous educators from six metropolitan centers from throughout the US gathered to follow up on the National Urban Indian Family Coalition’s 2017 report Resurgence: Restructuring Urban American Indian Education. As the lead researcher for Resurgence, AIOIC’s president, Dr. Joe Hobot, visited Indigenized schools in Denver, Seattle, Albuquerque, Portland, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and Los Angeles where he learned about the pedagogical strategies being employed at the schools. What emerged was an innovative, and highly Indigenized set of alternative methodologies seldom reflected in the mainstream school system. The prevailing sentiment shared by all who participated in the research was a sense of working in isolation, coupled with a desire to both share and learn from other educators operating similar programs. As such, American Indian OIC, in partnership with the National Urban Indian Family Coalition, brought the schools together to establish a community of practice.
Over the course of three days, Indigenous educators shared pedagogical strategies, curriculum ideas, and reflected on education policy. The gathering was significant because it demonstrated the continued need for innovation in the arena of public education for American Indian students. Many of the programs find themselves in an adversarial relationship with their local education system for reasons like adherence to the status quo, structural racism, or failure of imagination and innovation. These schools however, have strong relationships with their communities and are fueled by a passionate parent base, intent on preserving and advancing these alternative programs on behalf of their students. Within this context, the formation of a community of practice becomes important for providing support across programs and regions, and underscores that these innovative programs are not alone.
What is exciting about these Indigenous schools is that their programs are yielding meaningful academic results: high rates of attendance, graduation, college enrollment, and test results for American Indian students. It is clear that these results are directly tied to the innovation of the schools and the integration of Native ceremonies, language, history, and values into curricula. In coming together in community, it became apparent that the work will continue in a supportive manner with ongoing national dialogue provided by the participating schools. What has begun is a movement; for which all indicators point toward growing the community and learning from more Indigenous education programs.
In the coming weeks, Dr. Hobot will be developing a report on the gathering that outlines the work being pursued. American Indian OIC is excited by what the future holds for this community and is incredibly grateful to the National Urban Indian Family Coalition for their partnership, and the Marguerite Casey Foundation, Charter Communications, Comcast Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Potlatch Fund, and Spencer Foundation for supporting this important work.
Please consider playing a part in our community’s resurgence by making a tax-deductible donation to American Indian OIC. Your gift is an investment in the future of our young people and in the future of our community. Chi miigwech and wopila tanka.