American Indians and Alaska Natives have always held our communities’ education in high regard. Today, our Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) are illustrating a new era of self-determination over education. TCUs revitalize our Native languages and cultures, further our communities’ economic growth, and provide affordable access to higher education for our current and future leaders.
Unfortunately, Native educators are not readily visible in the U.S. K-12 education system. In recent research Native teachers were not counted, but rather, were considered “other”. Together, we have the ability to change this and celebrate Native teachers and encourage the next generation to consider higher education. We know that having Native teachers in the classroom not only benefits Native students but non-Native students too. Native teachers bring community values to the classroom, are more likely integrate cultural aspects into their teaching, and serve as positive role models that Native students can see themselves – creating a pathway to the education profession.
2019 marks the 40th anniversary of teacher education programs at TCUs – in 1979 Sinte Gleska University on the Rosebud Indian Reservation was the first TCU to offer a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Since then, TCUs offering teacher preparation programs have grown to a current total of 12. We celebrate these, and many other programs offered, at the 37 TCUs across Indian Country, with our Thirty7 initiative. We believe everyone should celebrate Native teachers, and TCUs should be valued and considered by Native students.
Thirty7 is comprised of a group of individuals that value education and aim to see our communities thrive. Our mission is simple – to celebrate and showcase Native teachers that attend(ed) TCUs and deliver a functional and beautiful product whose profits provides scholarships for current/future Native teachers in training.