Promoting Schooling Pathways that Enhance Native Ways of Knowing and Being

Financial support from the Walton Foundation opened an opportunity for NIEA to develop the first ever comprehensive handbook promoting the growth and expansion of Native Charter Schools, entitled “Sovereignty in Education: Creating Culturally-Based Charter Schools In Native Communities.” Developed with the sole purpose of advocating for schools that are grounded in Native ways of knowing, believing, and operating, NIEA is promoting Native-controlled charter schools that will provide an increase in educational opportunities for our Native students; and an environment of teaching and learning in which Native identity can thrive.

Throughout this handbook, educators and advocates alike can learn about the depth of Native education and Native charter schools. The handbook allows you to dive in to each component surrounding Native education and Native Charter Schools taking you on a journey in which you will learn more about the benefits and challenges to charter schools, the Native Charter School Framework, and how to successfully start, operate, and sustain a Native Charter School in your Native community.

Native Charter Schools are essential to Indian Country, as they go beyond traditional learning, for the purpose of expanding culture and language-based educational opportunities for American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian students. It is within this distinct Native Charter School environment, operated by a tribe or Native organization, that Native ways of knowing and being – our language, values, practices, knowledge, and belief systems – are validated, and integrated within contemporary curricular content to enhance educational success for our students.

Serving as the leading organization on Native education, NIEA collaborates on the First Kids 1st (FK1st) Initiative, a national effort focused on changing national, tribal, and state policy to create conditions in which Native children can thrive. As a partner of this initiative with the mission to help strengthen equitable and local supports for vulnerable Native children in our communities, NIEA and FK1st are working to promote and expand the narrative surrounding Native Charter Schools through NIEA’s Native Charter School handbook.

Download the “Sovereignty in Education: Creating Culturally-Based Charter Schools In Native Communities” handbook here, to learn more about Native-controlled Charter Schools.

Get involved in FK1st and NIEA to become an advocate for Native education and schooling pathways that affirm our students’ Native identity by joining the FK1st mailing list here!

FK1st Hosts Native Youth Policy Briefing on Capitol Hill

MEDIA ADVISORY: First Kids 1st—Every Child is Sacred Initiative Partners Host a Native Youth Policy Briefing “Native Youth Policy Briefing Shifting the Climate to Support Native Youth” on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON, DC | First Kids 1st—Every Child is Sacred (FK1st) will host a policy briefing on Thursday, January 17, 2019 from 12:00-1:30 pm in Cannon House Office Building Room 121 with Congressional members and staff on the leading issues impacting Native children and youth.

The 90-minute briefing will feature a panel of speakers from the FK1st Founding Partners including a youth perspective from National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) former Board Member and MSW Student at Columbia University School of Social Work Teressa Baldwin (Inupiaq), National Indian Health Board (NIHB), National Indian Education Association (NIEA), and National Congress of American Indians (NCAI).

We invite members of the press to join the FK1st Initiative partners to learn about Native children and youth policy issues highlighted in our recent update to our 2018 Native Children’s Policy Agenda (NCPA). Click here, to read the full 2018 NCPA Update.

Please RSVP for the briefing by emailing

The First Kids 1st – Every Child is Sacred Initiative is a national collaborative effort and is comprised of leading Native American organizations, allies, and partners from all backgrounds, focused on changing national, tribal, and state policy to create conditions in which American Indian and Alaska Native children can thrive. We are working to cultivate and nurture strategies and policies that build and strengthen equitable and local supports for vulnerable Native children in their communities. The First Kids 1st effort is led by four founding members: the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA), the National Indian Education Association (NIEA), and the National Indian Health Board (NIHB).

The AIGC and Cobell Scholarships applications are now open!

Every year AIGC awards more than 20 Fellowships and Scholarships that fund undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees. It is never too early to get a jump start on education. Here are a few basic eligibility requirements, but you can read about all the requirements and scholarships and fellowships available on the AIGC website.

Basic eligibility information
Students must be seeking a full-time degree at a nationally or regionally accredited higher education institution in the United States.

All applicants must be able to demonstrate tribal affiliation through the submission of a TRIBAL ELIGIBILITY CERTIFICATE. Each opportunity has specific affiliation requirements, please review the specific criteria that you are applying for to ensure eligibility. The TEC is due on the day the application is due. Individuals applying for multiple opportunities should submit just one TEC to AIGC.

ALL applicants must submit a Financial Needs form:  FINANCIAL NEEDS FORM (FNF) (due by July 15 each year) and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

For more information and how to apply for this program please visit the AIGC website.

Native Youth Highlighted at the 2018 National Tribal Health Conference 

The 35th Annual National Indian Health Board (NIHB) National Tribal Health Conference took place September 17th-20th in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In addition to being the largest gathering focused solely on American Indian and Alaska Native health policy, this year’s conference featured presentations by elected and government leaders, a gala dedicated to heroes in Indian health, and several session that spotlighted the achievements of youth.  

NIHB Health Policy Fellow, Betsy Waller, meeting with her Chickasaw Nation Tribal Council leaders. From left to right: Toby Perkins, Nancy Elliott, Linda Briggs, Betsy Waller, Connie Barker, Shana Tate Hammond, and Lisa Billy

Native Youth Making a Difference   

As a part of NIHB’s commitment to growing the next generation of Indian health policy advocates, a new conference track called “Native Youth: Making a Difference” was offered. Rather than focusing on negative messages about young people, this distinctive track celebrated youth presenters and their allies who are stepping up to take on important health challenges.

NIHB Health Policy Fellows Take Center Stage  

Attendees celebrated the work of accomplished youth presenters- Maka Monture (Tlingit, Kanien’kehá:ka) and Tamee Livermont (Oglala Sioux Tribe)- both NIHB Health Policy Fellowship alumni. Ms. Monture and Ms. Livermont led a 90-minute workshop, alongside current NIHB Health Policy Fellow, Betsy Waller (Choctaw Nation and Chickasaw Nation), about their Fellowship project journeys working with Tribal leadership to identify a pressing health issue, analyze this issue, and create recommendations for change. Now both Ms. Monture and Ms. Livermont are taking steps to advocate for their policy recommendations, while Ms. Waller is beginning to reach out to her Tribal leadership to define the scope of her Fellowship project.

Tamee Livermont (Oglala Sioux Tribe, NIHB Health Policy Fellowship Alumni), Colbie Meeks (Cheyenne and Arapaho) and Maka Monture (Tlingit, Kanien’kehá:ka, NIHB Health Policy Fellowship Alumni) at the 2018 National Tribal Health Conference

Ihanktonwan Dakota/Dine Youth Wins Leadership Award

At the Heroes in Indian Health award ceremony, Cante Waste Win Zephier won the Youth Leadership Award for her outstanding efforts to positively impact the health and wellbeing of others in her community. Ms. Win Zephier not only acted as a mentor in her community healing camp, she also sold over 750 T-shirts and raised over $10,000 for the camp. She has also worked with leaders to change American Indian mascots in schools and has used her voice to make sure that others who have experienced trauma don’t feel alone.

Cante Waste Win Zephier, Recipient of the NIHB Youth Leadership Award

Encouraging Youth Participation

The National Indian Health Board is committed to creating space at our conferences for youth voices. Please encourage youth in your community to submit presentation proposals to next year’s National Tribal Health Conference.

Participation at NTHC provides youth the ability to:

  • Learn about policies that impact the health of Indian people
  • Observe the Tribal Consultation process in action
  • Learn how to be effective advocates
  • Connect with others interested in pursuing careers in governance, health policy, and healthcare, and
  • Network with Tribal, state, and federal leaders

Connect with Us

To learn more about how NIHB supports Native youth through the Health Policy Fellowship program and other initiatives, please contact, NIHB’s Native Youth Engagement Manager, Dr. Wendee Gardner at or 202-548-7297.

Also follow us on social media, where we will highlight youth achievements, provide tools and resources for engaging in health policy, and announce the launch of our new NIHB Youth page, as well as new mini-grant opportunities for Native youth!