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News From the Field

Native American Indian Working Group: Innovation Meets Tradition

The Native American Indian Working Group, part of REL Southwest's Oklahoma Rural Schools Research Alliance, recently conducted two site visits with Native American tribes in the state. In April 2015, REL Southwest staff and alliance members met with the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma in Perkins. Then in May, the group met with the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes in Concho. The main purpose of the visits was to clarify, narrow, and prioritize the needs of Native American students in the state's rural schools to inform the work of the larger alliance.

The Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma is engaged in helping the community build an appreciation and awareness of the importance of tribal history and culture as a way to support students, schools, and community members. The working group learned about these efforts and the needs of students. The group then had the opportunity to see the Iowa Tribe's unique horse, buffalo, and eagle programs. The visitors were allowed to ride the Iowa Tribe horses, tour the buffalo program, and admire the breathtaking raptors in the eagle program—truly a highlight of the visit.

bald eagle
A bald eagle at the Iowa Tribe's Grey
Snow Eagle House

The Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes shared with the working group some of the programs and strategies they are using to address education issues. In turn, the working group shared some programs and strategies other tribes are using to address similar issues. For example, the Cheyenne and Arapaho are using their tribe-owned public television station, the only one in Oklahoma, to help address the challenge of revitalizing native languages. At the station, education and technical teams collaborate to develop Cheyenne and Arapaho language programs for preschool children and others. In addition, station members search for and air high-quality Native American programs developed by other tribes.

The working group will share the information it learned from the tribal visits with the other members of the Oklahoma Rural Schools Research Alliance to guide its work and research agenda.

Photo Gallery

Alliance member Norma Neely tours the Iowa Tribe's horse program   Alliance liaison, Haidee Williams, rides an Iowa Tribe horse

Alliance member Norma Neely tours the Iowa Tribe's horse program.

 

Alliance liaison, Haidee Williams, rides an
Iowa Tribe horse.

Alliance member Funston Whiteman rides an Iowa Tribe horse   Bald eagles at the Iowa Tribe's Grey Snow Eagle House

Alliance member Funston Whiteman rides an Iowa Tribe horse.

 

Bald eagles at the Iowa Tribe's Grey Snow Eagle House

Bald eagles at the Iowa Tribe's Grey Snow Eagle House   Touring the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes television station

Bald eagles at the Iowa Tribe's Grey Snow Eagle House

 

Touring the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes television station