“We are the advocates, we are the engagement”: American Indian Educators’ strategies on engaging students, families, and communities

Cassandra R. Davis


In this paper, the author conducted interviews with five personnel from the Title VII Office of Indian Education to assess how participants engaged underrepresented and racially minority communities in a southern rural environment. Qualitative findings revealed that participants deemed creating and maintaining a culturally responsive educative environment as the most vital method of engagement. Participants also identified building trust with parents and called for an environment that welcomes racial-congruency as additional ways to foster engagement. Finally, participants deemed a lack of transportation and resources as barriers to involving American Indian students and families. Ultimately, participants expressed having the privilege to work with members of their tribal communities and intended to use their findings to inform schools on ways to better support underrepresented groups.

Full Text:



Adams, C.M., Forsyth, P.B., & Mitchell, R.M. (2009). The formation of parent-school trust: A multilevel analysis. Educational Administration Quarterly, 45(1), 4-33.

Albert Shanker Institute. (2015). The state of teacher diversity In American education. Retrieved from: http://www.shankerinstitute.org/sites/shanker/files/The%20State%20of%20Teacher%20Diversity_0.pdf

Apthorp, H. S., D'Amato, E. D., & Richardson, A. (2002). Effective standards-based practices for American Indian students: A review of research literature. Aurora, CO: Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning. http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED469297

Banks, C. A. M., & Banks, J. A. (1995). Equity pedagogy: An essential component of multicultural education. Theory into Practice, 34 (3), 152–158. http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ520876

Barnard, W. (2004). Parent involvement in elementary school and educational attainment. Children and Youth Services Review, 26, 39–62. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2003.11.002

Brayboy, B.M.J. & Castagno, A.E. (2009). Self-determination through self-education:Culturally responsive schooling for Indigenous students in the USA. Teaching Education, 20(1), 31-53.

Cain, J. M. (2015). Clarifying Multicultural: The development and validation of multicultural teacher capacity scale (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. (Accession Order No.)

Castagno, A.E. & Brayboy, B.M. J. (2008). Culturally responsive schooling for indigenous youth: A review of the literature. Review of Educational Research, 78(4), 941–993. DOI: 10.3102/0034654308323036

Charmaz, K. (2014). Constructing grounded theory (2nd ed., Introducing qualitative methods). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Cleary, L. M., & Peacock, T. D. (1998). Collected wisdom: American Indian education. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED422138

Cowell, A. (2002). Bilingual curriculum among the Northern Arapaho: Oral tradition, literacy, and performance. The American Indian Quarterly, 26(1), 24–43. http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ675320

Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and education. New York, New York: The Free Press.

Fischer, S., & Stoddard, C. (2013). The academic achievement of American Indians. Economics of Education Review, 36, 135–152. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.econedurev.2013.05.005

Freire, P. (1973). Education for critical consciousness. New York, New York: Continuum.

Gay G. (2002). Preparing for culturally responsive teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 53(2), 106–116. http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ667182

Goddard, R.D., Salloum, S.J., Berebitsky, D. (2009). Trust as a mediator of the relationships between poverty, racial composition, and academic achievement: Evidence from Michigan’s public elementary schools. Educational Administration Quarterly, 45(2), 292-311.

Gottfried, M. A. (2011). The detrimental effects of missing school: Evidence from urban siblings. American Journal of Education, 117(2), 147–182. http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ920345

Grissom, J.A. & Redding, C. (2016). Discretion and disproportionality: Explaining the underrepresentation of high-achieving students of color in gifted programs. AERA Open, 2(1), 1-25.

Haegeland, T., Raaum, O., & Salvanes, K.G. (2012). Pennies from heaven? Using exogenous tax variation to identify effects of school resources on pupil achievement. Economic of Education Review, 31(5), 601-614

Hanley, M. S., & Noblit, G. W. (2009). Cultural responsiveness, racial identity and academic success: A review of literature. Heinz Endowments Culture Report, pp. 1-91.

Henry, K. L., Knight, K. E., & Thornberry, T. P. (2012). School disengagement as a predictor of dropout, delinquency, and problem substance use during adolescence and early adulthood. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 41(2), 156–166. http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ953840

Jackson, C.K., Johnson, R.C., & Inman, A. (2015). Increased per-pupil spending yields improved educational attainment and higher future wages for students from low-income families. Education Next, 15(4).

Jones, M. D. & Galliher, R. V. (2007). Navajo ethnic identity: Predictors of psychosocial outcomes in Navajo adolescents. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 17, 683-696.

Karathanos, K. (2009). Exploring US mainstream teachers’ perspectives on use of the native language in instruction with English language learner students. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 12(6), 615–633. http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ862599

Ladson-Billings, G. (1994). The dream-keepers: Successful teachers of African American children. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Lafortune, J., Rothstein, J., & Schanzenbach, D.W. (2016). School finance reform and the distribution of student achievement. American Economic Journal, 10(2), 1-26.

Lipka, J. (2002). Schooling for self-determination: Research on the effects of including native language and culture in the schools. ERIC Digest. Charleston, WV: ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools (ERIC ED459989).

McCarty, T. L. (2003). Revitalizing indigenous languages in homogenizing times. Comparative Education, 39(2), 147–163. http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ670240

National Center for Education Statistics. (2010). Status and trends in the education of racial and ethnic groups.” Washington, D. C.: Institute of Education Sciences. US Department of Education. http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED510909

National Center for Education Statistics. (2011). National Indian education study: The educational experiences of American Indian and Alaska Native students at grades 4 and 8. Washington, D. C.: National Center for Education Statistics. Institute for Education Sciences. US Department of Education. http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED533306

National Center for Education Statistics. (2008). Status and Trends in the Education of American Indians and Alaska natives: 2008 Advance Course taking in High School: National Center for Education Statistics. Institute for Education Sciences. US Department of Education. https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2008/nativetrends/ind_4_7.asp

Nelson, S., Greenough, R., & Sage, N. (2009). Achievement gap patterns of grade 8 American Indian and Alaska Native students in reading and math. Washington, D. C.: Regional Educational Laboratory Northwest. National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. Institute of Education Sciences. US Department of Education. http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED505876

Office of Indian Education. (2018). Indian education. Retrieved from: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oese/oie/index.html

Rivera, H., & Tharp, R. (2006). A American Indian community's involvement and empowerment to guide their children's development in the school setting. Journal of Community Psychology, 17. http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ958107

Rychley, L., & Graves, E. (2012). Teacher characteristics for culturally responsive pedagogy. Journal of the National Association for Multicultural Education, 14(1), 44–49. http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ958597

Vygotsky, L.S. (1962). Thought and language. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard university Press.

Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge: Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Weinstein, C., Curran, M., & Tomlinson-Clarke, S. (2003). Culturally responsive classroom management: Awareness into action. Theory into Practice, 42(4), 269–76. http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ761508

Winstead, T., Lawrence, A., Brantmeier, E., & Frey, C. (2008). Language, sovereignty, cultural contestation, and American Indian schools: No Child Left Behind and a Navajo test case. Journal of American Indian Education, 47(1), 46–64. http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ794266

Yazzie, T. (1999). Culturally appropriate curriculum: A research-based rationale. In K. G. Swisher & J. W. Tippeconnic, III (Eds.), Next steps: Research and practice to advance Indian education (pp. 83-106). Charlotte, WV: Regional Educational Laboratory Appalachia. ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools. http://eric.ed. gov/?id=ED427906


  • There are currently no refbacks.