If you are reading this, I’m going to assume a few things about you. You are probably interested in education, in community and in the history and rights of indigenous people. That’s quite a bit to assume, but let’s face it, this blog is not yet a top Internet search result and you probably had to be searching for some specific content to find it. Being concerned about education is fairly common; everyone wants great schools, right? The same could be said for community. Who doesn’t want to be part of a thriving, healthy community? Expressing interest in indigenous history puts you on a much smaller lane of the Internet highway than others. Actually being informed and engaged about the conditions and challenges confronting Native American students- well, you have ventured well off the main road.
We are not here to bemoan the fate of some mythical group of people created by Hollywood. We are here to talk about real students and real struggles to heal people from the grave wounds inflicted by centuries of cultural and literal genocide. We are educators, policymakers, and concerned citizens committed to bringing the very best practices and resources together -to bring healing and positive change to indigenous students.
Big dreams? Absolutely, but these are big problems and there is no time for halfhearted, weak-kneed approaches. We are focused on building lasting success for the students whose very existence is an improbable miracle given how hard governments and dominant cultures have worked to eradicate them. If you are Native, there is no need to tell you of the struggles. If you are not Native, but are a sympathizer, a collaborator… you probably have seen enough stats and Native poverty porn to know you don’t need to be convinced the problems are massive and the need for action is critical.
I wonder how many readers are teachers in schools that still have “harmless” or “beloved” Native mascots while their “statistically insignificant” but very real Native student populations struggle to find success and identity in the classroom. I wonder how many have seen a social media piece about the Dakota Access pipeline and wondered what the big deal is. I wonder still, how many have questioned why this story isn’t a much bigger deal. How many of us see the connection between the tomahawk-chop at the ballpark and the ability for us to stand by while laws regarding Tribal Nation sovereignty are ignored?
The stench of failure exemplifies the pathetic state of affairs propagated by the educational systems serving Native American youth. “Kill the Indian and save the man” may not be official policy anymore, but current educational outcomes are similar. So much so that for many members of Generation Indigenous, suicide is a struggle far more familiar than the college application process.
The HEART initiative is a unique endeavor that merges the most promising and research based practices in education into a systemic approach for educator development. The end result will be cadres of accomplished, culturally responsive teachers who help indigenous communities bring healing and positive change to schools, on and off the reservation. Please, explore this website, read about the approach, follow our progress, make a donation, join a Circle. Commit to doing something that makes a positive difference for us all. Thanks for the opportunity to speak from the HEART and I hope you’ll be back soon.
Learn more about the HEART Initiative here.