PBS Newshour: Indian issues in presidential race
"Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are courting the Native vote and their pitches both revolve around improving the educational systems in Indian country. Obama stopped at the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana to make his case. Former president Bill Clinton campaigned for his wife on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota while Sen. Clinton made a stop on the Flathead reservation near Glacier National Park.

While crisscrossing these reservations, both candidates have focused their tribal platforms on the improvement of educational resources. Clinton has pledged to repeal the hotly-debated No Child Left Behind Act and Obama has pledged to invest more money into Indian education and reform NCLB.

But for many within the Indian community, their concerns reach beyond these top-line policy goals, focusing instead on how standardized tests and uniform curriculum could undercut traditional teachings and native language learning. Despite repeated attempts to contact both campaigns, no calls or e-mails were returned to clarify the candidates' stands on the complex issue, and experts say the problem is much more intricate then simply reforming or repealing the No Child Left Behind Act.

"The issue for Indian tribes in society is yes, they want to be educated but at what cost?" said David Beaulieu, director of the Center for Indian Education at Arizona State University. "We have to give up who we are as peoples, our languages, our heritage, our cultures in order to become educated? It is possible to have your cake and eat it too."

The Native American system of education was born more than 130 years ago in 1875 when a group of Kiowa, Cheyenne and Arapahoe prisoners of war were taken to Fort Marion prison in Florida. Their internment became the model for Indian education: the Indian boarding school."

Get the Story:
Education Issues Weigh on Tribal Voters in South Dakota, Montana (PBS Newshour 6/2)

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