The Treaty Basis of Michigan Indian Education


  • Martin J. Reinhardt Native American studies Northern Michigan University
  • John W. Tippeconnic Arizona State University


A socio-historical content analysis of 16 treaties and 3 contemporary American Indian education laws at the federal level revealed that a certain amount of the treaty obligation may yet be unfulfilled regarding tribes currently located within the State of Michigan. Both monetary and non-monetary provisions were analyzed using the United States Supreme Court’s Canons of Treaty Construction. The treaty provisions were further categorized according to certain criteria based on the trust doctrine. The outcomes of the treaty analysis were then compared to the provisions of the Indian Education Act, the Indian Self-Determination & Education Assistance Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Responsibilities of each level of government, implications for school policy and procedures, and recommendations for further study are included.

There is a general assumption that the federal government is obligated to provide for the educational interests of American Indian tribal citizens based on the educational provisions contained within treaties entered into between the United States (US) government and American Indian tribal nations. The problem with such an assumption is that it does not take into account that the US did not enter into any comprehensive treaty with all of the American Indian tribes as a single unit. While it is true that there are many educational provisions contained within treaties that have similar language, the fact remains that the treaties were made with different American Indian tribal nations.

Author Biographies

Martin J. Reinhardt, Native American studies Northern Michigan University

John W. Tippeconnic, Arizona State University


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