Most villages in Alaska are accessible only by air and, in some cases, by water. New York: Doubleday & Co. Gaffney, M. (1977). Each REAA established its own locally elected school board and selected its own superintendent, and although the actual responsibilities assumed by school boards and administrators vary from region to region, most of the boards today are directly involved in establishing policies for budgets, hiring, curriculum development and assessment. Indian Nations At Risk Task Force. The three primary groups are Eskimo, Indian and Aleut. The only options open to Alaska Natives in small rural communities who wished to attend high school were the distant BIA boarding high schools, with the exception of a small number of church-affiliated boarding high schools in some regions of the state. A system of regional boarding schools was established in the 1900s. Holst, S. (1999). USFS archaeologist David Plaskett briefly recorded the Burnett Inlet cannery on Etolin Island in 1977. Government efforts aimed at providing equal opportunities proliferated during the "Great Society" period of the 1960s with its bold attempts to fight the "war on poverty," and these continued well into the 1970s. Four years later the task of providing education was specifically delegated to the Bureau of Education, a unit within the Department of the Interior (Barnhardt, 1985; Case, 1984; Darnell, 1979). Fairbanks, AK: College of Rural Alaska, Center for Cross-Cultural Studies. WHEREAS, American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children were required by law to attend boarding schools with the stated purpose of “Kill the Indian, Save the Man;” and. Alaska Native educators and elders are responsible for preparing: A comprehensive set of relevant and tested curriculum resources that build upon Alaska Native ways of knowing, Alaska Native traditions, and the unique Alaska contexts represented by the five major cultural and linguistic groups in the State (see at. Deloria Jr., V. (1991). Fairbanks, AK: The Alaska Native Knowledge Network ( Although there is an increasing number of written materials being prepared by Alaska Native people that provide valuable information about individual, family, and community educational experiences and perspectives, many have yet to be compiled and published so that they can be used to identify common patterns and themes. Treaties, reservations, the Civilization Fund Act, boarding schools and land policies represent the types of federal initiatives that historically contributed to a decrease in opportunities for many Alaska Natives to build upon the strengths of their cultures, languages, communities, and traditions that would enable them to lead meaningful, contributing and satisfying lives. Nearly all of these have been initiated by groups and organizations outside of the formal K-12 and university systems. The passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, the decentralization of the federal and state school systems, and the rapid development of an extensive network of village high schools have brought about major transitions in a very short period of time. I provide information that is intended to explain the basis for some of the misunderstandings outlined above. Through their collective efforts, they achieved what, at the time was "perhaps the most comprehensive and far-reaching legal settlement of aboriginal claims to land and its resources yet witnessed in the contemporary worldãthe Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, "ANCSA" (Gaffney, 1977, p. 29). In 1999, there were approximately 8,480 Alaska Native students and 969 American Indian students in these three urban areas (Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, 1999). There was in fact no comprehensive effort to remedy this problem by the state or federal governments until a lawsuit was filed against the State of Alaska in 1974. . In 2001 nearly 60% of Alaska Native students continue to attend school in rural and remote communities where K-12 school enrollments range from eight students with one teacher to 500 students with many teachers. MacLean, E. A. Polar Record, 19(122), 431-446. In addition, the Alaska Federation of Natives has sponsored numerous policy and program initiatives of its own to follow through on the Alaska Natives Commission recommendations. We do know that Russian explorers, fur traders and missionaries had been in the country since the early 1700s, and we know that the territory was sparsely settled by groups of indigenous people whose languages and cultures varied significantly. Barnhardt, C. (1999a). 6-7). The ink will hardly be dry on [this] report before another organization, or another federal agency, has the urge to investigate and the cycle will begin again" (p. 62). & G. Gipp. "It is like gospel to us. Many small, non-Native towns did this and opened schools immediately. Smetzer, M. B. Life on the other side: Alaska Native teacher education students and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Alaska Natives claimed ownership to land that the pipeline would cross, as well as the land on which the oil fields themselves were located. Federal involvement with Alaska Native education continues to the present day through a variety of government programs. It was not until 1884, 17 years after Alaska became a territory of the United States, that the first official federal legislation impacting Alaska, the Organic Act, was passed. Although there have not been dual federal/state school systems in Alaska since the mid 1980s, the complexity of the shifting relationships among federal, state, regional, tribal, and municipal laws, decisions, and policies continues to directly impact Alaska Native people in areas encompassing education, land and water rights, subsistence, economic development, adoption rights, health care, and justice (Alaska Native Knowledge Network, 2001; Barnhardt 1999b; Kushman & Barnhardt, 1999). Alutiiq, Koyukon Athabascan, Inupiat, Tlingit, Yup'ik). where the population is 30 to 50 percent non-Native, and in the road system or marine highway schools (accessible by car or ferry and primarily non-Native, such as Kenai, Ketchikan, Sitka or Tok) have characteristics of both the village schools and the urban schools. Because the federal Bureau of Education was not able to provide adequate schooling for all of the newcomers, the United States Congress granted authority to individual communities in Alaska to incorporate and establish schools, and maintain them through taxation (Darnell, 1979). It is interesting to note that although there was a set-back in federal government support for local control initiatives after WW II, there was legislation passed in the 1950s that did provide additional financial assistance to public schools. However, since Alaska Natives were less "tribally oriented" than American Indians in the Lower 48 states, they were granted special permission to establish "village" governments and constitutions, and most groups chose this option (Case, 1984; Olson & Wilson, 1984). Although an increasing number of Native people live in urban areas of the state, the terms rural and Native are frequently used interchangeably. The Commission was to accomplish its work while respecting Natives' unique traditions, cultures and special status as Alaska Natives . Bitter debates dominated the legislature, the media, and citizen forums in rural and urban communities across the state. University of Alaska Anchorage: Institute for Social and Economic Research. Anchorage: Alaska Federation of Natives. It was not until 1952, however, that Alaska entered into its first Johnson-O'Malley contract (Case, 1984). an effort to bolster the economy for Alaska Natives by introducing reindeer herding), cooperative stores, operation of a ship (the North Star) for supplying isolated coastal villages, and the maintenance of an orphanage and three industrial schools. As a means of responding to the increasing number of Native American children enrolled in state-funded public schools (as well as providing an incentive for public schools to accept Indian students), this Act authorized the Secretary of the Interior (specifically the BIA) to negotiate contracts with state, territorial or local agencies to provide federal funds to help defray expenses incurred for the education of American Indians and Alaska Natives (DeJong, 1993; Fuchs & Havighurst, 1972). In addition to the efforts already described, special congressional subcommittees, independent research associations, and grass roots organizations each used their own tools and their persuasive efforts to usher in a wide array of new programs. They include the following: It is premature to predict what the outcome of schooling will be for Alaska Native students in the s twenty-first century. Alaska Natives and the American law. Since then, there has been progress. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Oslo, Norway: Scandinavian University Press. In addition to the increase in the number of Native Americans working within the agency, the National Advisory Council on Indian Education was established under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 in the U.S. Department of Education. Study of Alaska rural systemic reform: Final report. The population of Alaska in 2000 was 626,932 people, nearly 103,000 of aboriginal ancestryãEskimos, Indians, and Aleuts, who collectively refer to themselves as Alaska Natives. Meriam, L. (1928). Several major educational initiatives in the 1990s have been designed to build upon the diverse and unique set of conditions, experiences, and traditions in rural Alaska. Case, D. (1984). Education among the Native peoples of Alaska. Continuing debates about boundaries between state and federal governments, laws, and judicial decisions relative to Alaska Native people were pivotal in the decision that led to the development of a joint federal-state commission in 1990 to help untangle the ambiguous relationships between Alaska Natives and the various layers of government. With the passage of Native Language Education, AS 14.30.420, the State pledged to establish Native language advisory boards in all districts where the Native population was over 50%. (1995). The study, which was critical of government policies, led to the publication of the book, To Live on This Earth (Fuchs & Havighurst, 1972), and to reports specific to different regions, such as John Collier, Jr.'s book Alaska Eskimo Education (1973). Kawagley says "Alaska Native people have their own ways of looking at and relating to the world, the universe, and to each other. Indian education: a national tragedyãa national challenge. Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association. The federal Bureau of Education, meanwhile, continued to extend its services to more remote sections of Alaska, and by 1931 it had assumed responsibility for the social welfare and education of most rural Native people. "ANCSA"ãThe Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. As a child in winter camp near the mouth of the Huslia River, Eliza Jones would fall asleep to the words of traditional Koyukon Athabascan stories. Most schools have a K-12 organization and the number of teachers typically ranges from one to ten. . Of these, only five were contracted to Native governments in 1983" (Case, 1984, p. 207). Even Juneau, the state capital, can be reached only by airplane or ferry, and it is as far from communities in northern and western Alaska as Colorado is from New York. Tippeconnic, J. Digitized primary sources as found on Alaska's Digital Archives found under the keyword "boarding school. These geographical features are often the basis for perceptions of Alaska by "Outsiders," and they have prompted many to describe it as a "land of contrasts" or a "land of extremes.". Austin [Alaska's Digital Archives], District Court case file concerning Juneau boarding school operator C.N. Others have attempted to explain away the Alaska oversight in their analyses, as Francis Prucha (1984) did when he stated that: Alaska NativesãIndians, Eskimos, and Aleutsãoffered unique problems [for the federal government], for they had never been fully encompassed in the federal policies and programs developed for the American Indians. In these settings most of the school population was Alaska Native because it reflected the population of the villageãnot because of restrictive official or unofficial educational policies. Final Report: Alaska Natives Commission: Volume II. Although there were several reasons for continuing the merger between the federal and territorial school systems, the momentum that began in the 1940s came to a halt, and by 1954 efforts to bring the two school systems together ceasedãfor a variety of political, economic, and social reasons, some at a national level and some within the state (Case, 1984; Darnell, 1979). The geographic and physical features are remarkable. The bedtime stories and the many more from her grandmother and others throughout her childhood growing up near Huslia are among Eliza's earliest memories. Today, there are tribal councils in nearly every rural community in Alaska and these often serve as the vehicle for the on-going struggle to exercise self-determination and sovereignty. Educators in the twenty-first century in Alaska need to have the patience to allow for, and the passion to advocate for, deep-seated and fundamental long-term systemic changes in our schools. 3. Four years later this major technological feat was completed, and Alaska became an important supplier of United States oil. District Court case file concerning Juneau boarding school operator C.N. The discovery of oil and the subsequent passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act provided the State of Alaska with a great deal of money, and provided Native people with power and economic status they had not previously held. Fairbanks, AK: Center for Northern Educational Research, University of Alaska Fairbanks. The Meriam Report and Federal Legislation. Haskell Indian Nations University is a federally operated tribal university in Lawrence, Kansas.Founded in 1884 as a residential boarding school for American Indian children, the school has developed as a North Central Association-accredited university that offers both associate and baccalaureate degrees. Its far northern position isolates it from other states but places it within 47 miles of Russia, and its 33,000-mile coastline is longer than the east and west coastlines of the contiguous states combined. . Native American education, and Alaska Native education, have histories that are complex and tightly interwoven. The Indian Reorganization Act, still a significant piece of Indian legislation, provided for Indian political self-government and economic self-determination by allowing tribes to organize and incorporate. Anchorage Daily News, pp. Email the Webmaster, Alaska State Libraries, Archives, & Museums, Class photograph, Sitka Industrial Training School, District Court case file for United States vs. Sheldon Jackson [Alaska's Digital Archives], District Court case file for Can-ah-Couqua vs. John Kelly and A.E. You had to be an active listener," Eliza said. The non-profit corporations now annually administer over one hundred million dollars for education, health, employment, and social programs in their respective regions. Kuinerrarmiut Elitnaurviat: The school of the people of Quinhagak. Children as young as 5 were removed from their families… Since many of the factors that currently inhibit success for Alaska Native students in our public schools come from the lingering effects of past schooling policies and practices, Alaskans must be diligent in their efforts to learn wisely from the past history of schooling in the State. Many of the elders in Alaska Native communities today have had personal and direct experience with these early federal Indian policies and practices. Because most rural communities have little tax base to draw upon, REAA's are funded directly by the legislature, rather than through a local government. With only 626,932 people spread over 586,402 square miles, Alaska has one of the lowest population densities in the world, with just a little over one person per square mile. The potential for students to become academically successful in culturally relevant ways now exists in ways that were unimaginable just thirty years ago. Promises of the past: A history of Indian education. (p. 62). (1969). Dauenhauer, R. (1982). The diverse geographic areas that Alaska Native people occupy dictate quite distinct life styles with a broad range of subsistence practices, modes of transportation, accessibility to others for economic and social functions, and political structures. 33-53). Rather, it was because of the political wisdom and persistence of Indian educators, Indian institutions, Indian organizations, tribes, and other driving forces behind legislative and executive branch actions" (1999, p. 37). ", Judge Lafayette Dawson's verdict and legal reply to, Alaska State Archives, Alaska State Library. Some national authors have given Alaska Natives a cursory nod, as Margaret Szasz (1974) did when she prefaced her historical account of Indian education by saying that "Alaskan Native children are mentioned only briefly; their school conditions are unique and should be the subject of a separate study" (p. vii). Public demonstrations, civil rights pressures, and independence movements were prevalent in countries all around the world. The revitalization of the QARGI, the traditional community house, as an educational unit of the Inupiat community. This Act provided "major changes in the administration of education programs by giving controlling authority to local communities" (Olson & Wilson, 1984). Although some of the twenty languages are related, they are different enough from one another that speakers of one language usually cannot understand speakers of another language. When oil was discovered on the North Slope of Alaska in 1968, the major oil companies involved immediately applied to the federal government for a right-of-way permit to initiate the largest private construction project in recent United States history. Now that the buffalo's gone: A study of today's American Indians. This reversal of public support for American Indian/Alaska Native self-determination and local control impacted Alaska where some of the educational reform efforts recommended by the Meriam Report and the Collier administration had just begun to be implemented. Bureau of Education schools continued to operate with the belief that it was important to transform American Indians and Alaska Natives into civilized and Christian Americans, and the best mechanism for achieving assimilation into American society was education (Dauenhauer, 1982; Ongtooguk, 1992; Shales, 1998). Juneau, AK. In 1971, the Alaska State legislature attempted to attend to the chaos in Alaska's rural schools by making the Alaska State-Operated School System an independent agency with responsibility for rural schools. Alaska has the highest mountain on the North American continent, the second longest river in America, several active volcanoes, over half the glaciers in the world, and spectacular Northern Lights. The creation of the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) in 1964 provided not only Headstart and Community Action Programs (e.g., RuralCAP) in which many Alaska Native people and village governments participated; it also created a model for collaboration between the federal government and local communities. There are three major urban areas (Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau) as well as 20 smaller towns and about 180 villages. 113-194). Alaska Educational Reform Efforts After ANCSA. Alaska for decades seemed remote and out of the way; no treaties were made with the natives there, few reservations were established for them, and only small appropriations were made for their benefit. After five years of negotiation between the oil industry, federal and state governments, Alaska Native leadership, and environmentalists, a permit for construction of the pipeline was issued, and construction finally began in 1973. Many of the ambiguities and conflicts of interest and interpretations between tribal groups and the BIA remained, and some in Alaska would agree with Guy Senese's 1986 assessment of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act as one that provided only an "illusion of control.". In addition, the treaties helped to initiate a pattern of dependency in which Native Americans were forced to rely on the federal government for essential services because their traditional, and historically effective, means of providing these services for themselves was lost through displacements resulting from the treaty arrangements (Prucha, 1984). However, despite the work of the Commission and other entities within the state to resolve conflicts between Natives and non-Natives (and rural and urban citizens), differences escalated in the 1990s. Josephy, A. J. Urban schools: The three largest cities in Alaska are Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau, and their schools now serve nearly 30% of the state's Native American student population. Due primarily to these system wide reform efforts under the banner of the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative, for the first time in the history of schooling in Alaska, Native people are defining education in their own terms. Johnson-O'Malley, Indian Education Act), and are sometimes supported with additional state and/or district funds. Night after night, while her mother sewed by the light of a coal oil lamp, Eliza and her two brothers, snug in bed rolls atop mattresses stuffed with moose hair, would listen intently as their stepfather spun narratives of long ago when animals were people. there were few communities in which students attended separate schools on the basis of race), many of the other negative consequences of the dual system continued (e.g. Other districts will continue to respond with reform efforts that are temporary in nature and that only address issues at the tip of the cross-cultural iceberg (Kushman & Barnhardt, 1999). (1992). In his 1991 set of essays on Indian Education in America, Vine Deloria states that: Cultural differences should have been reasonably clear in 1492 and by the early 1700s when formal educational efforts for Indians began. This additional funding (along with the Johnson O'Malley funds to which it was linked), provided an option, but not a mandate, for schools in Alaska to provide services and support specific to the needs of Alaska Native students. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Juneau Empire Special Report. This isn't something new to Natives. The final report of the White House Conference on Indian Education. Culturally appropriate and relevant curriculum is available, highly qualified Alaska Native educators live and work in every region of the state, and the legal requirement for local control and local school governance is in place. Recently, however, many Natives as well as non-Natives are recognizing that the Western system does not always mesh well with the Native worldview, and new approaches are being devised (p. 37). Encyclopedia of educational research, pp. The Civil Rights Act of 1968 also included five titles dealing specifically with Native Americans. Certainly after almost three centuries people ought to be getting a grip on the nature of this cultural difference. (p. 1128). Ongtooguk, P. (2000). State 'recognizes' Alaska tribes. The 1819 Civilization Fund Act, enacted long before Alaska became a territory, also impacted Alaska. (KCAW Photo/Snider) In Sitka, there’s a unique piece of local architectural history hiding in plain sight. The Indian Boarding School Policy was implemented by the federal government to strip American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children of their Indigenous identities, beliefs, and languages. Collier Jr., J. It was not until September of 2000, however, that the governor of Alaska signed an administrative order directing state agencies and officials to "recognize and respect" the 227 federally recognized tribal governments in Alaska. Historical Status of elementary schools in rural Alaska communities, 1867-1980. The first schools to assert local Indian control through a BIA contract program known as "Project Tribe," were the Blackwater Community School of the Gila River Indian Community and the Navajo Rough Rock Demonstration School (Fuchs & Havighurst, 1972). Although these federal programs did result in a number of changes in schools and educational programs in Alaska, the impact of the federal changes was far greater than the legislation itself. I follow the conventional pattern (in Alaska) of using "American Indian" to describe indigenous people in the United States, but outside the state of Alaska (and Hawaii), and in some contexts I use "Native American" when I refer to all indigenous people of the United States. Research in American Indian and Alaska Native education: from assimilation to self-determination. 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