Equal Educational Opportunity for Native American Students in Montana Public Schools


Chapter 1

History of Indian Education Initiatives in the United States and Montana


Throughout U.S. history various state and federal programs have been initiated to meet the educational needs of Native American children.[1] Federal Indian education policy started during President George Washington s time in 1792 with the Seneca Nation, and the government's historical policy of trying to civilize the Native American had begun. The United States included education provisions in treaties starting in 1794 with the Oneida, Tuscarora, and Stockbridge Indians, and extending through the treaty-making period ending in 1871. And within those 77 years, an act was passed in 1819 that provided for an annual Civilization Fund to educate Native Americans.[2]

The practice of providing for technical or vocational education and of providing financial support for reservation schools, boarding schools, and other education programs was formalized by the federal government in 1921 with the passage of the Snyder Act. The legislation gave broad authority to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to spend federal money to educate Indians and promote their acculturation. Further, the commitment to provide education services had been extended by Congress to tribes and individuals through special funding for Indians in education programs.[3]

Federal government involvement, according to many Indian education experts, gave states an excuse for not providing critical education services to their Native American populations. Clearly, some Native American students have experienced discrimination and lack of educational opportunity, and our schools have failed large numbers of Indian children.[4]

In 1969, tribal leaders created the National Indian Education Association to preserve and incorporate Native American history in public schools. The association promoted the exchange of ideas on how best to educate Native American students, at a time when many educators were resistant to notions of cultural curriculum and Native language instruction.[5]

The 1969 State Legislature established the Montana Constitution Revision Commission to determine whether the constitution was adequately serving the needs of Montana's citizens and to make recommendations for change.[6] At the same time, the Legislature called for a Constitutional Convention, a measure voters passed in the 1970 general election.[7] The Constitutional Convention Commission, in preparation for the actual convention scheduled for 1972, prepared Background Study No. 17 Education. [8] Study No. 17 consisted of several sections on equal educational opportunity for Indians, particularly focusing on protection of the cultural integrity of Indians. The study concluded that states have obligations to:

The study further stated that the principles could be embodied in a model constitutional provision on equal educational opportunity and Indian education.[10]

The preliminary work by legislators before the Constitutional Convention clearly reflected the state's moral obligation to provide Indian children the same educational opportunities as other children, while at the same time meeting their cultural needs.

In March 1972, Montana Constitutional Convention delegates debated Education and Public Lands Committee Proposal No. 10, which addressed education for all. It read as follows:

Section 1. EDUCATIONAL GOALS AND DUTIES OF THE STATE. It shall be the goal of the people of Montana to provide for the establishment of a system of education which will develop the full educational potential of each person. Equality of educational opportunity shall be guaranteed to each person of the State.[11]

The intent of Proposal No. 10 centered on two issues that repeatedly surfaced during the debate: the need to acknowledge Native Americans in the constitution and the need to address problems between Indians and non-Indians in the state.[12]

The delegates to the Montana Constitutional Convention adopted article X, section 1, subsection 2, for inclusion into the new constitution in June 1972. The language of the amendment to section 1 read:

The State recognizes the distinct and unique cultural heritage of the American Indians and is committed in its educational goals to the preservation of their cultural integrity.[13]

Joan Hurdle, a member of the Committee on Indian Affairs, a state legislative committee, said that with the adoption of that language, the state of Montana committed itself to the preservation of the cultural heritage of the state's first inhabitants.[14]

To move the State Legislature from a posture of commitment to Indian education to one of action, within one year of article X's adoption, the Montana Legislature passed House Bill No. 343, known as the Indian Studies Law. The law required all teachers in public schools on or near Indian reservations to receive instruction in American Indian studies.[15] The purpose of the law was to ensure that every Montana teacher had an understanding of and appreciation for Native American people.[16] The Indian Studies Law required teachers to have a background in American Indian studies by July 1, 1979.[17] All affected school districts could employ only those certified teachers who met the Indian studies requirement. The law met little opposition in the Legislature, and, in fact, was supported by the American Federation of Teachers.[18]

House Bill No. 343 (Indian Studies Law) was actually a compromise bill. House Bill No. 501, introduced in the same session, required that all teachers in Montana complete Indian studies coursework within 10 years, regardless of where they taught. While that bill may have more accurately reflected the intent of the constitution, it was apparently too drastic a measure for passage and, therefore, paved the way for the acceptance of House Bill No. 343.[19] An additional piece of legislation, Senate Joint Resolution No. 17, passed at the same time, encouraged public schools to include in their curricula Indian history, culture, and contemporary affairs. It also encouraged teacher-training programs to prepare teachers for educating Indian children.[20] Although the resolution did not have the force of the law, it put the State Legislature on record as supporting Indian studies as an integral part of Montana's education system.[21]

Reasons surrounding the opposition to the Indian Studies Law included, but were not limited to, the fact that Montana teachers, who were predominantly white, were resistant to legislation that forced additional training and threatened loss of employment; tenured teachers felt they should be grandfathered into the law; and resources to meet the needs of all teachers affected by the law were limited or lacking altogether. The Indian Studies Law provided no guidance on how best to implement the law and did not address such questions as what courses would be acceptable or what would constitute evidence of compliance.[22]

To address those questions and many others, the 1974 Legislature reintroduced the 1973 language of failed House Bill No. 501 and passed House Joint Resolution No. 60, instructing the Board of Public Education and the Board of Regents, acting together as the State Board of Education, to devise a master plan for improving public school teachers knowledge of Native American culture. Although the Indian Studies Law applied only to teachers who taught on or near reservations, House Joint Resolution No. 60 called for all teachers, regardless of where they taught, to receive Indian studies training within 10 years.[23]

The committee assigned with the task of developing a master plan, after reviewing current and potential Indian studies programs in the state, formulated 17 recommendations, from which the Indian Culture Master Plan was developed. The plan contained recommendations for the Montana university system and the Office of Public Instruction.[24]

In December 1975, the Indian Culture Master Plan, a guide for institutions to begin meeting their obligations under the Indian Studies Law, was adopted by the State Board of Education. In the first three years of its existence, however, the Indian Studies Law barely caused a ripple in the education community. From 1973 until 1976, most teachers and school districts ignored the law while the Indian Culture Master Plan was being developed.[25] Tenured teachers thought the Indian Studies Law did not apply to them, so there was no mad rush to comply.[26] As time passed, the Indian Studies Law was met with a great deal of opposition and became a source of irritation and confusion for many teachers across the state.[27]

In early 1979, before the Indian Studies Law could be fully implemented (the law was to be effective July 1, 1979), the Montana statute was amended making it optional, not mandatory, for educators teaching on or near an Indian reservation to take American Indian studies courses.[28] To date, state law still encourages teachers to obtain university-level hours of American Indian studies, and local school districts continue to have the option to require that their teachers take Indian studies,[29] although few districts do so.

The State Legislature in 1975 established Native American Day (celebrated the fourth Friday in September). The resolution invited the people of Montana to observe the day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.[30]

The entities that monitor education in Montana are complex and intertwined. Before delving further into the issue of equal educational opportunity for Native American students in Montana public schools, this report will explain their interconnections. There are five major players in Montana s education system: the Office of Public Instruction; the Board of Public Education and the Board of Regents, which together act as the State Board of Education; and the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education (see appendix A).

The Office of Public Instruction (OPI) provides services to Montana's school-age children and teachers in approximately 500 school districts. The superintendent of public instruction, elected by Montana citizens, manages the many facets of OPI and interacts with other state agencies. OPI provides technical assistance in planning programs, accreditation, school curriculum, school finance, and school law. The office also administers several federally funded programs and provides a variety of informational services. OPI staff members provide assistance to the superintendent of public instruction through prescribed duties, which include (1) support for the superintendent's statutory role with the Board of Public Education, Board of Regents, and Land Board; (2) the distribution and accounting of state and federal funds provided to school districts; (3) operational support to OPI; and (4) assistance and information to school districts.[31] The Office of Public Instruction implements the rules set by the Board of Public Education.[32]

The Board of Public Education, which consists of seven voting members appointed by the governor with the consent of the State Senate, exercises a general supervisory responsibility for K 12 public schools, and in most cases acts on recommendations of the superintendent of public instruction. Some of the statutory responsibilities and duties are to adopt standards of accreditation, adopt rules for student assessment, and effect a system for teacher and specialist certification.[33] The certification process is administered by the Board of Public Education, the Certification Standards and Practices Advisory Council, and the superintendent of public instruction.

The Board of Regents consists of seven voting members appointed by the governor with the consent of the Senate and is charged with the responsibility and authority to supervise the managing of Montana's university system, community colleges, and vocational-technical centers.[34] The Board of Regents chief administrator, appointed by the board, is the commissioner of higher education and serves as the chief executive officer of the Montana university system. The governor, superintendent of public instruction, and commissioner of higher education serve as ex-officio, nonvoting members on both the Board of Public Education and the Board of Regents.

The Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education implements policies of the Board of Regents and exercises administrative oversight of the campuses within the Montana university system.[35]

Members of the Board of Public Education and the Board of Regents, meeting together, form the State Board of Education, which has responsibility for submitting unified budget requests for long-range planning and for coordination and evaluation of policies and programs for the state s education system.[36] The governor serves as president, and the superintendent of public instruction serves as secretary of the State Board of Education.

The 1980 census reported that 51 percent of Montana s adult population completed high school, while only 23 percent of the Indian population completed the same level of education.[37] As a result of the census data and other information regarding Indian education, the Board of Public Education established the Montana Advisory Council for Indian Education (MACIE) in 1984. MACIE's role was to advise the Board of Public Education and the superintendent of public instruction in educational matters involving Indian students.[38] The Board of Public Education also adopted a policy statement on Indian education (see appendix B).

In 1989, the Montana Institute for the Effective Teaching of American Indian Children conducted its first training session, which provided a variety of materials for certified teachers and administrators on educating Native American children. Training included strategies for developing critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, and covered such topics as effective instructional methods and appropriate behavior management techniques.[39]

The Board of Public Education completed a comprehensive review of the state accreditation standards through Project Excellence: Designing Education for the Next Century. One result of that effort was the development of the Montana School Accreditation Standards and Procedures Manual (1989), which referred specifically to the needs of Native American children in directing that schools shall nurture an understanding of the values and contributions of Montana s Native Americans and the unique needs and abilities of Native American students and other minority groups. [40]

In March 1990, the U.S. Department of Education chartered the Indian Nations At Risk Task Force to study the status of Native American education in the United States. The task force received testimony from hundreds of citizens and concluded without question that the culture of Native American people was indeed at risk.[41] That same month, Superintendent of Public Instruction Nancy Keenan issued a position statement titled Commitment to American Indian Education in Montana, which reaffirmed her support for article X, section 1, subsection 2 of the Montana Constitution (see appendix C). It also reaffirmed her commitment to work closely with Indian people to increase the educational attainment level of Indian students.[42]

Also in that same year, Governor Stan Stephens issued Executive Order No. 22-89, which established the Commission for the Nineties and Beyond, and charged the group to visualize the future needs of the people of this state with respect to all aspects of higher education in a context of concerns for quality, access, accountability, and affordability. [43] The Commission for the Nineties and Beyond's final report, Crossroads Montana Higher Education in the Nineties, was released in October 1990 and cited its concern for the rapidly expanding young Indian population that had traditionally demonstrated low educational attainment, high dropout rates, high poverty rates, and high unemployment.[44] The commission's concerns were notable; however, no action was taken by the governor or state legislators to remedy problems cited in its report.[45] Native American and non-Native American advocates would not let the issue of equal education for Native American students die, and that same year educators, parents, and private citizens took action.

In 1990, the Indian community sought to address concerns regarding the education of Indian children and adults. A statewide public forum of tribal representatives from all Indian nations and Indian people of Montana was convened by the Montana Advisory Council for Indian Education (MACIE), under the direction of Robert Parsley, Indian education specialist with the Montana Office of Public Instruction.[46] To fully address the issue, three major events were held in 1990: (1) a community forum where testimony was heard from tribal representatives from each of the seven Indian reservations, the urban Indian population, various Indian education organizations, and nationally renowned experts; (2) a retreat to develop strategies to address the issues presented at the forum; and (3) a statewide conference.[47] Those events resulted in defining needs and developing recommended goals and actions, which were presented in 1991 as A Plan for American Indian Education in Montana: Recommended Goals. The plan was developed from the voices of Montana Indians and non-Indian education providers. The primary forces backing this effort were MACIE, the Montana Committee for American Indian Higher Education, and the Montana Tracks Task Force of the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education.[48] The plan was directed to the governor, the Montana State Legislature, the Board of Regents, the Board of Public Education, the Office of Public Instruction, and to local school district trustees (school board members) who had the responsibility to carry out the state constitution and meet the education needs of all citizens of Montana.[49] In 1991, the State Board of Education, Board of Regents of Higher Education, Board of Public Education, Office of Public Instruction, and Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education, issued a statement further reaffirming their constitutional commitment to the education of Indian people (see appendix D).[50]

During a presentation to the Montana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights at its February 1992 meeting, an educator with the Great Falls School District Indian Education Program said there was still a great need for state legislation to require teachers to take multicultural education courses. She also said there was a need for teachers to learn how to select suitable materials as teaching tools; to develop relevant curricula; to develop teaching procedures, instruments, and evaluations of tests administered to Indian children; and for administrators, counselors, and specialists to be sensitized to Indian issues and culture.[51]

The Office of Public Instruction reported that in 1992 93, Indian children were the largest minority group in the state.[52] Montana's public education system consisted of 514 school districts accounting for 159,991 children, of whom 140,809 (88.01 percent) were white; 15,012 (9.38 percent) Native American; 2,179 (1.36 percent) Hispanic; 1,181 (0.74 percent) Asian; and 810 (0.51 percent) African American.[53] During that same period, more than 50 percent of Native American students in Montana were enrolled in urban public school districts in cities such as Billings, Great Falls, Helena, and Missoula rather than in rural or reservation school districts.

OPI also reported that in 1992 93 Indian youth were the largest group of children in the state to drop out of school. A child in Montana can legally drop out of school at age 16, and unfortunately many under the age of 16 also drop out. Because Montana did not maintain dropout figures at that time, it was difficult for OPI to determine the actual dropout rate for the state.[54]

Exemplifying the seriousness of the situation, Great Falls School District estimated the overall school dropout rate for 1992 93 to be about 4.5 percent and the Indian student dropout rate to be about 10 percent.[55] After the close of the 1994 95 school year, the Office of Public Instruction, for the first time, began keeping statewide dropout statistics.[56]

That same year, in response to reports of increasing disparities between the racial composition of America's K 12 students and teachers, the Professional Preparation and Development Committee of the Certification Advisory Council to the Board of Public Education examined the racial balance of Montana's K 12 teaching force as compared with the racial composition of Montana's K 12 student population.[57] Many states were developing strategies to increase the number of minority teachers, who often serve as role models for minority students. By recruiting more minority teachers, states hoped to reduce the high dropout rates of minority students and improve their academic achievement to levels comparable with those of the general population. The Office of Public Instruction reported in 1990 that only 1.9 percent of Montana's K 12 public school teachers and 1.7 percent of Montana's school administrators were Native American. In addition, according to a report of the Certification Advisory Council, a disparity of greater than 7 percent existed between the racial makeup of Montana's K 12 teachers and minority students.[58]

Recognizing the need to reduce the disparity, the Certification Standards and Practices Advisory Council prepared a report on strategies for improving the recruitment and retention of minority teachers. After 18 months of study, the advisory council released its report, Strategies for Improving the Recruitment and Retention of Minorities in Education in Montana, which was adopted by the Board of Public Education in 1994.[59] The report recommended that teacher and administrator preparation for certification should include a component devoted to the study of Native American cultures and history and include a component to prepare educators to work with bilingual students. The report also recommended that the Certification Standards and Practices Advisory Council study the efficacy of adding a Permissive Special Competency in Native American studies to Montana's teacher certification requirements.[60]

On January 20, 1994, hope for a better educational future for Indian children in public schools was again rekindled when the top five entities that oversee education reaffirmed their constitutional commitment to equality of education to each person of the State, in a one-page statement. Although they did not mention Native Americans specifically, they pledged to support the infusion of gender and multicultural equity awareness and techniques throughout Montana's teacher education programs (see appendix E).

The lack of effective action by the state in response to the numerous efforts to improve the public school system resulted in additional attempts by educators and parents to seek alternative means of educating Native American children. For example, in 1994, the Montana Advisory Council for Indian Education (MACIE) to the Office of Public Instruction and Board of Education sponsored the Indian Education Collaboration, which was intended to bring educators together to develop a unified plan for educating the state's Native American children.[61]

Despite all the aforementioned efforts, Indian children in Montana public schools still lagged behind.

In March 1994, President Clinton signed into law the Goals 2000 agenda, which codified eight educational goals and set new standards for the nation's schools.[62] Working within the framework of Goals 2000, many school districts across the country began to develop blueprints for the incorporation of Indian culture into classrooms. Strategies included providing for Indian representation throughout school systems and creating ways to develop and evaluate culturally appropriate curricula.[63]

At the state level, members of the governor's Task Force on Renewing Montana Government said in July 1994 that the problem with Montana's education system was that nobody knew who was in charge. The task force echoed its concern that although the governor's office, the Office of Public Instruction, the State Board of Regents, and the State Board of Education all shared control of education and policy, the groups had not worked together. The task force concluded that having a mix of elected and appointed officials leaves the system primed for disagreement, and determined that if the systems worked closer together, there would be several benefits, among them the consideration of joint issues such as teacher training. Members of the task force prepared procedures identifying a new way of managing education, which included the creation of a central board that would allow the Office of Public Instruction and the Board of Regents to work together and more closely with the governor. Montana's Constitution already had provisions giving significant powers to the State Board of Education; however, these had not been exercised. Further, the governor had rarely exercised control over the board, even though the constitution gave him this authority.[64]

In a historic move that same year (1994), the State Board of Education took steps toward creating a unified public education system. Since 1972, the State Board of Education had the constitutional authority to coordinate the university system and public education budgets and curriculum, but had never done so. Governor Marc Racicot was the first governor to assert this constitutional authority of the combined board.[65] A few months earlier, he proposed a plan that would ask the 1995 State Legislature to consider creating a State Department of Education to oversee all publicly funded education in Montana. His proposal would have eliminated the Board of Regents and Board of Public Education and replaced them with one advisory board. It would also have eliminated the elected superintendent of public instruction and the commissioner of higher education.[66] The proposal failed to materialize and was eventually withdrawn. However, in 1995, lawmakers had again designated the fourth Friday in September, this time as Native American Indian Day.

In October 1995, with many concerns still unresolved regarding the state of Indian education in Montana, and through the urging of many parents and educators, additional initiatives were taken. Indian people once again convened a statewide conference to voice their concerns. The major purpose of the meeting was to allow every tribal government in Montana an opportunity to present testimony on the status of education for Indian students on their reservations from kindergarten to postsecondary education.[67] A goal of the Montana Forum for Effective Education of American Indian Students was to evaluate and follow-up on the progress made to reach the goals and recommendations outlined in A Plan for American Indian Education in Montana: Recommended Goals, which had been presented to the governor, State Legislature, and state educational agencies in 1991. The governor, the Montana Legislature, Board of Regents, Board of Public Education, Office of Public Instruction, and school boards were asked to provide a written report of their progress.[68]

The outcome of the October 1995 meeting produced the document, Montana Forum for Effective Education of American Indian Students: Final Report. Forum coordinators determined that although many recommendations made by the tribes in 1990 have been accepted and acted upon by state education leaders, there were still many instances where tremendous improvement was needed to allow Indian students to matriculate successfully through the Montana education system. [69] The report concluded that student dropout rates were too high, academic levels were low, Indian students had inadequate skills to compete, there was a lack of positive role models for Indian students, as well as lack of Indian-related curriculum, a lack of K 12 talented and gifted programs, a lack of Indian teachers and administrators, and major behavioral problems in the classroom.[70] Recommendations for the future included the following: continue to work on curriculum and involve Indian people in this process, continue to develop the database of information so that the progress toward achieving one hundred percent graduation or one hundred percent completion of school could be tracked, to include a tribal education section in the Montana State Plan, and to improve teacher education programs to prepare teachers to work with Indian students on reservations.[71] The document, compiled from information received from tribes of the state, was used to build on the already existing state plan.[72]

On November 30, 1995, the Board of Public Education, with the support of all Montana tribes, approved an addition to the Administrative Rules of Montana (ARM) that added specialist certification for those identified by Montana Indian tribes as eligible for the certification.[73] The teacher certificate, Class 7 American Indian Language and Culture Specialist, was established to teach Native American languages and to strengthen education and bridge the gap for teaching Indian languages and did not require a four-year college degree.[74] The new classification (known as the Class 7 certificate), which went into effect December 22, 1995, allowed Indian tribes to identify and certify persons they deemed qualified to teach their Native languages in the public schools (see appendix F). The Board of Public Education would accept the criteria developed by each tribe for qualifying an individual as competent to be a specialist in its language and culture.[75] The development of the Class 7 certificate was the result of cooperation among tribes and the Board of Public Education and a desire to ensure high-quality Native language instruction for Montana's children.[76] Applications for the Class 7 certificate were sent from the Office of Public Instruction. The education community offered mixed reactions to this new certification (discussed in more detail in chapter 2).

Also in 1995, 16 years after the Indian Studies Law was amended, the Montana Legislature adopted Senate Joint Resolution No. 11 and requested the Committee on Indian Affairs to study three issues. The Committee on Indian Affairs was established by the State Legislature in recognition of the need to provide a way for Indians to communicate their needs and concerns to the Legislature. The committee works to promote understanding between Indians and non-Indians; to encourage state-tribal and tribal-local government cooperation; to act as a liaison between Indian people and the Legislature; and to gain insight into Indian/non-Indian relations.[77] The three issues requested for study were the following:

The Committee on Indian Affairs was directed to make recommendations for remedying deficiencies found during its study. In October 1996, at the conclusion of its study, the committee voted to sponsor a bill designating the fourth Friday in September as American Indian Heritage Day and submit it to the 55th Legislature, which would convene in January 1997, for consideration and adoption.[79] The legislation was an attempt to make Montanans more aware of the impact that Indians have had on the state,[80] although Native American Day designations had already been adopted on two occasions in the past. The committee's summary and other proposed legislation that were not presented to the State Legislature will be discussed in chapter 2 of this report.

In 1996, speaking before the Montana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Norma Bixby, Indian education coordinator for the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, said, We still see the same problems at the state level and at the local level. A few things [are in place] so nothing really has changed. We have made some progress but not enough to really make considerable changes in Indian education in the state of Montana. [81] Ms. Bixby further said that on a budgetary level, Indian education is not pertinent at all it isn't a priority. She explained that the Montana Legislature did not accept federal Goals 2000 dollars, which, in her opinion, would have provided an opportunity to restructure and improve schools.[82]

During the 55th Legislative Session of Montana in 1997, Indian education and cultural integrity were hot topics of discussion. State lawmakers continued to be reluctant to pass any substantive legislation addressing the education of Indian children. Governor Racicot did, however, sign into law the fourth Friday in September as American Indian Heritage Day (formerly known as Native American Indian Day), which reinforced previous legislation and was said to be strengthened by requiring that schools conduct appropriate events commemorating the role of Indians in Montana's past and present. The measure said, The knowledge of this important history and culture is gradually being lost to citizens of the State of Montana, to the detriment of both the American Indian and non-Indian citizens of the State of Montana. [83]

The next legislative session, held in 1999, again addressed the education of Indian children in Montana public schools and the extent to which state law was being enforced. During this session, state legislators introduced House Bill No. 528, purposed to implement article X, section 1, subsection 2 of Montana's Constitution.[84] Article X recognizes the distinct and unique cultural heritage of Native Americans and Montana's commitment to establish educational goals to preserve the cultural integrity of Native Americans.[85]

In 1999, the Legislature approved the bill (see appendix G), which in part reads:

WHEREAS, a 1995 study conducted by the Committee on Indian Affairs, pursuant to Senate Joint Resolution No. 11, revealed that despite the constitution's educational guarantees, many school districts and schools, including those adjacent to Montana's seven Indian reservations, had no policy or information in their school curricula recognizing the cultural heritage of American Indians and that the small number of Indian teachers and administrators in public schools resulted in Indian students with no role models and in a lack of cultural awareness and sensitivity among non-Indian students; and

WHEREAS, the Legislature recognizes that the history of Montana and the current problems of the state cannot be adequately understood and the problems cannot be addressed unless both Indians and non-Indians have an understanding of the history, culture, and contemporary contributions of Montana's Indian people.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:

Section 1. Recognition of American Indian cultural heritage legislative intent.

(1) It is the constitutionally declared policy of this state to recognize the distinct and unique cultural heritage of American Indians and to be committed in its educational goals to the preservation of their cultural heritage.

(2) It is the intent of the legislature that in accordance with Article X, section 1(2), of the Montana Constitution:

(a) every Montanan, whether Indian or non-Indian, be encouraged to learn about the distinct and unique heritage of American Indians in a culturally responsive manner; and

(b) every educational agency and all educational personnel will work cooperatively with Montana tribes or those tribes that are in close proximity, when providing instruction or when implementing an educational goal or adopting a rule related to the education of each Montana citizen, to include information specific to the cultural heritage and contemporary contributions of American Indians, with particular emphasis on Montana Indian tribal groups and governments.

Later that year, Governor Racicot formed a committee composed of representatives of state educational agencies and asked it to make recommendations for implementing the bill. Its recommendations were to include suggestions concerning the instruction of Montana and Native American history, and the committee was also charged with developing a concrete list of approaches to implement House Bill No. 528 and ensure that the intent of article X would be met.

The recommendations developed by the committee were approved by the Montana Board of Education (see appendix H) and outlined the following:

Each Montana educational agency (Board of Public Education, Office of Public Instruction, Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education, and Board of Regents) will develop a policy statement; will develop a system to periodically monitor and evaluate its progress toward the implementation of House Bill No. 528; will improve educational standards and resources; will expand professional development and other educational opportunity so that administrators, faculty, staff, and students will have a better understanding of American Indian culture and history; and will expand their recruitment and retention of American Indian educators and students.[86]



[1] Montana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Project Proposal, April 1994, p. 1. In 1691, the College of William and Mary was established for secular and religious education of certain young Indian males. Ibid.

[2] T.J. Gilles, A ticket to the future: Education seen as key to overcome problems of the past, Pride & Prejudice, Native Americans in Montana: A Special Report and Chronology of Indian Education (Source: Murton McCluskey, Indian education consultant, Great Falls, MT), The Great Falls Tribune, Dec. 7, 1992, pp. 1A and 5A, respectively.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] G. Troy Melhus, The State of Indian Education: 25 years of recapturing a culture, The Bismarck Tribune, Sept. 4, 1994, p. 1E.

[6] Montana Legislative Services Division, To Promote a Better Understanding: The 1995 96 Activities of the Committee on Indian Affairs, December 1996, p. 6 (hereafter cited as Committee on Indian Affairs Report).

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid. The Constitutional Convention Commission also prepared other background studies that were addressed by delegates at the convention.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid., p. 7.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid., p. 8.

[13] Ibid., p. 7. The amendment was offered by constitutional delegate Dorothy Eck, now a member of the Montana Senate. The idea for the amendment originated with two Indian students from the Fort Peck Reservation who appeared before the Bill of Rights Committee and asked for some assurance that they would have an opportunity to study their own culture and language and develop a sense of pride, and that all Montana students would recognize the importance and dignity of Native Americans in Montana.

[14] Joan Hurdle, statement before the Montana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, fact-finding meeting, Billings, MT, Dec. 10, 1996, transcript, pp. 5 6 (hereafter cited as Transcript 1).

[15] Ibid., p. 7. House Bill No. 343, Chapter 464, Laws of 1973.

[16] Connie Erickson, legislative research analyst, Montana Legislative Services Division, The Indian Studies Law: An Exercise in Futility, A Report to the Committee on Indian Affairs, Montana Legislative Services Division, April 1996, p. 1.

[17] Ibid., p. 2.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid. House Bill No. 501, Chapter 118, Laws of 1973.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid., p. 2.

[22] Ibid., pp. 3, 9.

[23] Ibid., p. 3. A committee of 45 members, 41 of whom were Indian, was formed to develop the master plan. The committee was given one year to complete its work. Ibid.

[24] Ibid., p. 4.

[25] Ibid., p. 10.

[26] Ibid., pp. 4, 10.

[27] Ibid.

[28] House Bill No. 219, Chapter 458, Laws of 1979.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Office of Public Instruction, Montana Indians Their History and Location, revised April 1992, p. 47. The legislation was House Joint Resolution No. 57.

[31] Office of Public Instruction, agency description provided by staff person Madalyn Quinlan with the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to the Rocky Mountain Regional Office, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Mar. 27, 2000.

[32] Dr. Wayne Buchanan, executive secretary, Board of Public Education, interview with Malee V. Craft, civil rights analyst, Rocky Mountain Regional Office, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, in Helena, MT, Dec. 4, 1996.

[33] Office of Public Instruction, Directory of Montana Schools 1998 1999, p. 198. The term of office for appointed members is seven years. The Board of Public Education also has a nonvoting student member who serves a one-year term. Ibid.

[34] Ibid. Term of office for appointed members is seven years, except for the student appointee, whose term varies. Ibid.

[35] Ellen Swaney, director of American Indian/minority achievement with the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education, agency description provided to Malee V. Craft, civil rights analyst, Rocky Mountain Regional Office, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, April 2000.

[36] Office of Public Instruction, Directory of Montana Schools 1998 1999, p. 198. Ibid.

[37] Ibid., p. 3.

[38] Office of Public Instruction, A Curriculum Guide to Learning about American Indians, undated. The council was to consist of delegates from all reservations and major Indian education organizations. Ibid.

[39] Register soon for seminar on teaching Indian children, The Great Falls Tribune, Dec. 11, 1994. Institutes have been an annual event and are sponsored by the Office of Public Instruction.

[40] Montana Higher Education Systems, Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education, A Plan for American Indian Education in Montana: Recommended Goals, 1990, p. 1 (hereafter cited as Recommended Goals).

[41] Melhus, The State of Indian Education, p. 1E.

[42] Office of Public Instruction, A Curriculum Guide to Learning about American Indians, undated.

[43] Montana Education Commission for the Nineties and Beyond, Crossroads Montana Higher Education in the Nineties, p. 1. The executive order was issued on Sept. 12, 1989, and this commission was asked to present its report and recommend actions to the governor and Board of Regents by Oct. 1, 1990. Ibid.

[44] Ibid., p. 3.

[45] Recommended Goals, p. 1.

[46] Linda Peterson, division administrator, Office of Public Instruction, statement before the Montana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, fact-finding meeting, Missoula, MT, Apr. 24, 1997, transcript, p. 298 (hereafter cited as Transcript 2). Mr. Parsley held the position of Indian education specialist with the Office of Public Instruction until 1996. That position was still vacant at the time of the fact-finding meeting.

[47] Recommended Goals, p. 2. The statewide conference Opening the Montana Pipeline was sponsored by the Montana Committee for American Indian Higher Education. Ibid.

[48] Ibid.

[49] Ibid.

[50] Montana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Project Proposal, April 1994, p. 3.

[51] Ibid., p. 5. Deanna Parisian, director, Indian Education Program, Great Falls School District, Montana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Meeting Minutes, Feb. 12, 1992, p. 3.

[52] Office of Public Instruction, 1992 1993 School Enrollment, Racial/Ethnic Totals by Grade, reported Aug. 12, 1993.

[53] Ibid.

[54] Cebe Sabonya, Office of Public Instruction, Helena, MT, telephone interview with Malee V. Craft, civil rights analyst, Rocky Mountain Regional Office, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Feb. 24, 1994.

[55] Deanna Parisian, Great Falls School District, telephone interview with Malee V. Craft, civil rights analyst, Rocky Mountain Regional Office, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Feb. 9, 1994.

[56] Lindy Miller, Office of Public Instruction, Helena, MT, telephone interview with Malee V. Craft, civil rights analyst, Rocky Mountain Regional Office, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, June 8, 2000.

[57] Montana Certification Standards and Practices Advisory Council, The Treasure State Adviser, fall 1993, p. 3.

[58] Ibid.

[59] Certification Standards and Practices Advisory Council, 1994 Annual Report to the Board of Public Education.

[60] Certification Standards and Practices Advisory Council, Strategies for Improving the Recruitment and Retention of Minorities in Education in Montana, September 1994, p. 15.

[61] Montana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Project Proposal, April 1994, p. 2.

[62] Melhus, The State of Indian Education, p. 1E.

[63] Ibid.

[64] The Associated Press, Who's in charge of Montana education? The Great Falls Tribune, July 30, 1994. At that time, the Office of Public Instruction set the rules for teacher certification but had little say over how the state university system trained its teaching students. The superintendent of the Office of Public Instruction is elected, therefore the State Board of Education has no control over the superintendent. Ibid.

[65] Mike Dennison, Racicot moves to unify education, The Great Falls Tribune, Sept. 29, 1994, p. 1B. The governor is the nonvoting chairman of the combined board. This combined effort was the idea of the governor. Ibid.

[66] Ibid.

[67] Montana Forum for Effective Education of American Indian Students, forum overview-introduction, Oct. 12, 1995. Tribes were also asked to provide recommendations to governmental entities that might help to improve the education services provided to their children. The forum was sponsored by the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, Portland, OR, and the Montana Office of Public Instruction. The Montana Indian Education Association (MIEA) and the Montana Advisory Council for Indian Education (MACIE) were cosponsors.

[68] Montana Forum for Effective Education of American Indian Students, forum summary report, Oct. 12, 1995. Responses were received from five of the six governmental entities (governor of Montana, Montana Legislature, Board of Regents, Board of Public Education, and Office of Public Instruction). No response was received from the Montana School Boards Association. Ibid.

[69] Ibid. Forum coordinators were Bob Parsley, Indian education specialist, Office of Public Instruction, and Dr. Murton McCluskey, education consultant, Great Falls, MT. Ibid.

[70] Linda Peterson, Transcript 2, p. 299.

[71] Ibid., pp. 299 300.

[72] Norma Bixby, Indian education coordinator, Northern Cheyenne Tribe, Transcript 1, p. 90. The document listed the progress (through reports) made by entities listed in the state plan: governor's office, State Board of Education, Office of Public Instruction, local boards, and others. Ibid., pp. 90 91.

[73] Denise Juneau, Indian education specialist, Office of Public Instruction, Aug. 4, 1998, report to the Montana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights at its Aug. 4, 1998, meeting in Bozeman, MT. Rule assigned number ARM 10.57.407.

[74] Dr. Wayne Buchanan, executive secretary, Montana Board of Public Education, telephone interview with Malee V. Craft, civil rights analyst, Rocky Mountain Regional Office, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, June 20, 2000.

[75] Ibid.

[76] Ibid.

[77] Committee on Indian Affairs, The Tribal Nations of Montana, A Handbook for Legislators, March 1995, p. 14. The Committee on Indian Affairs was first established in the late 1970s as a temporary committee to study issues of jurisdiction. It was re-established by the Legislature every two years until 1989, when it became a permanent committee of the Legislature. Ibid.

[78] Committee on Indian Affairs Report, p. 2. Because local school districts have control over the extent to which the Indian Studies Law is implemented, and curriculum is also the prerogative of local boards, provided it meets the state accreditation standards, little information was obtained from a central source to determine compliance. To gather necessary information, a survey was devised with the assistance of the Montana Office of Public Instruction and sent to a random sample of public schools and corresponding school districts. Questions covered such areas as textbook selection, teacher recruitment, use of noncertified personnel, the Indian Studies Law, and assessment of language needs. Ibid., p. 13.

[79] Ibid., p. 63.

[80] Racicot signs legislation creating American Indian Heritage Day, The Great Falls Tribune, Apr. 9, 1997, p. 3M.

[81] Norma Bixby, Transcript 1, p. 91.

[82] Ibid., pp. 91 92. Goals 2000 dollars were federal funds that states could apply for to use for educational programs. Ten Montana schools applied for and received funds. Ibid., p. 92.

[83] Racicot signs legislation creating American Indian Heritage Day, p. 3M.

[84] House Bill No. 528 was sponsored by Representative Carol Juneau of Browning.

[85] Ron Selden, Indian Country Today correspondent, American Indian Education Mandated by Montana, Lakota Times, Apr. 19, 2000, p. LT1.

[86] Montana Board of Education, report and recommendations, House Bill No. 528, approved Mar. 22, 2000.