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Students of Croatan Normal School in Robeson County, early 1900s
Students of Lac Courte Ojibwe School, 2011

A Brief History of Indian Education

Indian Education has come a long way over the years. Before European settlement, Native Americans taught the children their ways through the elders, experiences, and with other traditional means.

As the School system was established in America, Indian children were not allowed in either the white or black schools across the country. The Indian boarding school served as a means to assimilate American Indian children and to train American Indian students as laborers. Today, it is often the first or second generation of the American Indian professional that is being encountered, not because of cultural inferiority or academic indifference, but because of the lack of a dignified, humane system of education.*

The modern day Bureau of Indian Education's mission is a great departure from the old way of thinking. Their mission is to provide quality education opportunities from early childhood through life in accordance with a tribe’s needs for cultural and economic well-being, in keeping with the wide diversity of Indian tribes and Alaska Native villages as distinct cultural and governmental entities. Further, the BIE is to manifest consideration of the whole person by taking into account the spiritual, mental, physical, and cultural aspects of the individual within his or her family and tribal or village context.** You can learn more at The BIE website.

The Minneapolis ELO's Place in the BIE

The Minneapolis Education Line Office is one of 22 line offices within the BIE. Our 11 schools are located throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, and North Dakota. We serve as the regional source of information for schools that receive grant funds from the BIE and we help to give them the resources to help their students excel.

The Bureau of Indian Education employs approximately 3,800 contract educators across 23 states. In School Year 2011-2012, the 183 Bureau-funded elementary and secondary schools, located in 23 states, served approximately 41,051 Indian students, which is based on a three year average student count known as the Average Daily Membership or ADM.

*Pavel, D.M. & Padilla, R.V. (1993). American Indian & Alaska Native postsecondary departure: An example of assessing a mainstream model using national longitudinal data. Journal of American Indian Education, 32, (2), 1-19.
**As stated in Title 25 CFR Part 32.3