Education | Opinion

Gyasi Ross: Let's take a lesson from Miccosukee Tribe on schools






Students at the Miccosukee Indian School attended a college fair in 2013. Still image from Miccosukee Magazine TV / YouTube

Attorney and author Gyasi Ross praises the Miccosukee Tribe of Florida for emphasizing culture and language in its education system:
Well, because every single Native community desperately needs to follow the Miccosukee Tribe of Florida’s lead and take back control of educating their most precious resources—Native children.

See, the Miccosukee Tribe of Florida recently showed that they will not forsake tribal history, language or storytelling anymore in the name of national standards. The Tribe applied for (and received) a waiver from the Department of Interior and also Department of Education that recognizes the Tribe’s sovereign right to define what “Adequate Yearly Progress” is and, guess what? It will be better than what is required under federal law, the No Child Left Behind Act.

The No Child Left Behind Act, passed in 2001 by the numbskull George W. Bush, is a continuation of those same assimilative policy mentioned above because it generally doesn’t allow local communities to integrate local values into curriculum. That’s devastating for Tribal communities, where there actually are such a thing as “local values,” local languages and local histories.

There is no room to teach those powerful local narratives under No Child Left Behind, and as decent as President Obama has been in regards to Natives (and sometimes even “good”), he for some reason has not addressed this fundamental battleground.

We have to be able to determine what’s best for our kids. Native kids were stolen away forcibly with the intent to kill anything Native inside them—it is imperative that we make up for this fracturing of our families.

Get the Story:
Gyasi Ross: A Lesson From the Miccosukee Tribe: Importance of Putting the 'Native' Back Into Native Education (Indian Country Today 6/10)

Relevant Documents:
Waiver Letter to Miccosukee Tribe (May 27, 2015)
Press Release: Miccosukee Indian School Receives Historic Flexibility to Meet Academic and Cultural Needs of Students (DOI June 1, 2015)

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Miccosukee Tribe secures first NCLB waiver in Indian Country (06/01)
Menominee Nation school sees dramatic rise in graduation rate (05/27)
Education Department cites increase in Indian graduation rate (3/16)