NCAI announces curriculum partnership with Lumina Foundation to support tribal civics education

Fawn Sharp is the President of the National Congress of American Indians. She is a politician, attorney, and policy advocate. Sharp served as President of the Quinault Indian Nation and as the President of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, and as vice president of the National Congress of American Indians. Sharp was appointed by the Department of the Interior to serve as chair of the National Commission on Indian Trust Administration and Reform.

Last week, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) announced a partnership with Lumina Foundation to support the expansion of tribally-designed and driven K-12 curriculum in public schools, as well as funding to support opportunities for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) college students who choose to pursue research careers.

Through a $200,000 grant from Lumina Foundation, NCAI’s Tribal Governance and Special Projects department will launch the new Tribal Civics Education Initiative, which will work with NCAI’s organizational partners to document, share, and expand the deployment of tribally-designed and driven curriculum about Native peoples in the K-12 public school systems across the country. This initiative will build on the findings of a report recently released by NCAI’s Policy Research Center and its partners titled Becoming Visible: A Landscape Analysis of the State Efforts to Provide Native American Education for All. This report concluded that:

“…Most Americans likely have attended or currently attend a school where information about Native Americans is either completely absent from the classroom or relegated to brief mentions, negative information, or inaccurate stereotypes. This results in an enduring and damaging narrative regarding Native peoples, tribal nations, and their citizens. Even though some exceptional efforts are happening around the country to bring accurate, culturally responsive, tribally specific, and contemporary content about Native Americans into mainstream education systems, much work remains to be done.”

Additionally, NCAI and its Policy Research Center will leverage these grant funds to provide more support and education to encourage AI/AN students to enter research careers and to promote education on conducting respectful research in partnership with tribal nations. NCAI’s Policy Research Center plans to enhance the content of its Annual Tribal Leader/Scholar Forum with new student-focused activities and convert a previously used in-person training on tribal research to an online format for use by college- and graduate school-level instructors to teach all students about the principles of conducting research in respectful partnerships with tribal nations.

“We are humbled to receive support from Lumina Foundation, which comes at a time when fostering equity is more critical than ever for American Indian and Alaska Native people,” said NCAI President Fawn Sharp. “This funding will help us create critical educational infrastructure so that Native students no longer feel erased from the history books, and it also serves as an opportunity to educate our non-Native brothers and sisters about the meaningful and positive contributions that tribal nations of the U.S. have made and continue to make to this country. We look forward to also inspiring and supporting the next generation of AI/AN researchers so that we are no longer missing from data that helps shape key policy and funding decisions in so many areas. Our hopes are that more accurate data will help to foster a more meaningful approach to federal trust and treaty obligations and lead to more inclusive decision-making and narratives.”

“We are supporting efforts to eradicate and dismantle systemic racism in areas that support and complement the work of Lumina Foundation,” said Danette Howard, senior vice president and chief policy officer at Lumina. “We applaud NCAI, which has demonstrated equity-mindedness through training, education, and a commitment to reflecting the community that it serves.”

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