Equal Educational Opportunity for Native American Students in Montana Public Schools

Chapter 4

Tribal Leadership and Tribal Education Perspectives

Blackfeet Tribe, Blackfeet Reservation

Chief Earl Old Person, who has been in tribal leadership for many years, said Indian children want to be a part of society and do positive things for themselves.[1] Chief Old Person told the Montana Advisory Committee that the Indian community wants to be a part of the future and to set a future for its children.[2]

Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes, Fort Peck Reservation

John Morales, executive board member of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes, asked for support of proposed legislation to strengthen Indian education in Montana. He said:

[Legislation] must be constructed to address the overwhelming need for educating the educators of our children in a manner designed to raise their level of understanding and awareness regarding the historic significance of Indian people to this state and this nation and to provide them with a comprehensive background in contemporary issues facing our tribes and individual Indians.[3]

Mr. Morales told the Montana Advisory Committee that the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes recently adopted a code for tribalization of education on the Fort Peck Reservation.[4] That action, he said, was a first step in advancing the educational interests of the people in a manner consistent with their educational, societal, cultural, spiritual, and economic needs. He continued, It is essential that the educational institutions of the state rise to meet the academic and social requirements of their constituents, which include both Indian and non-Indian people. [5] Fort Peck tribal officers are aware of statistics showing how poorly Indian students have done under the existing education system.[6] Pilot programs located principally on reservations and designed to address the language and societal barriers experienced by Indian students have recorded substantially increased achievement levels.[7] He said, It is essential that Indian people have the opportunity for education and training in the environment that is conducive to their specific learning requirements and with an eye toward utilizing their knowledge as a means of achieving true self-sufficiency and self-determination. [8] Mr. Morales said:

The Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Reservation view education as the single most important factor in achieving self-determination and economic self-sufficiency. It is essential to the interests of the tribes that every effort be made to achieve parity in education and educational opportunities for tribal members and to provide a suitable environment for those having successfully aspired to academic and technical excellence.[9]

He recommended the following:

He said that by accomplishing these tasks the legislative body will advance the state's ability to provide a meaningful and effective basis from which the education system will thrive in their role as stewards of education and educational awareness to the people they are mandated to serve. [11] He further stated, Legislators will bring the Montana public school systems into compliance with article X, section 1, subsection 2, of the state of Montana's Constitution. [12] The action will, according to Mr. Morales, define the role of American Indian studies in higher education and enhance the level of knowledge of the general public regarding American Indian issues. [13]

Mr. Morales said he believed there were teacher training opportunities on the Fort Peck Reservation for Native Americans, but very few students want to become teachers.[14] He said, It's very important to have Native American teachers in our school system. [15] He said there is hope for the future, but he does not see the current education system promoting the future of Indian students to the best of its ability.[16]

Mr. Morales explained that he became interested in the education of Indian children after his tribe offered incentive awards to students who had finished the eighth grade and high school seniors. In the Wolf Point schools, 48 awards were handed out to eighth graders and eight to seniors. The senior class began with 46 to 50 Native American students and ended with eight students graduating. That kind of really rung my bell, he said.[17]

Desiree Lambert, director of the Indian Education Department, Fort Peck Reservation, said the tribal executive board found that achievement was notably low at all elementary and secondary schools on the reservation.[18] Furthermore, dropout rates in the elementary and secondary schools on the Fort Peck Reservation are exorbitant when compared with state and national averages.[19]

In 1994, the tribal executive board endorsed the development of a new education code to preserve and perpetuate tribal membership by improving education to prepare students for life on and off the reservation.[20] With assistance from the Native American Rights Fund, a tribal education code was drafted in May 1995 and included the following issues: tribal curriculum, Indian preference in hiring, tribal education standards, tribal education policies and programs, parental and community involvement, and the establishment of a comprehensive student performance tracking system. The top priority was to develop a way to track student performance.[21] Ms. Lambert said the data gathered from the tracking system would be needed to assure the tribal education department that the unique needs of Indian children were being met by the four public school districts on the Fort Peck Reservation.[22]

Ms. Lambert provided statistics for schools on the reservation. She said:

We have a total of 19 Indian teachers on our reservation compared to 185 non-Indian. We have a total of 1,849 Indian students attending the school systems on the Fort Peck Reservation and 525 non-Indian. With that, the Fort Peck Tribe has realized the importance of ensuring their membership of a full and a quality education [through] the tribal education code.[23]

With regard to school trustees (school board members), they are as follows:

Ms. Lambert spoke about Indian preference in employment and said there are not enough trained teachers. So regardless of whether we had preference guidelines in place, we can't meet them, because we don't have the staff, she said.[25]

Northern Cheyenne Tribe, Northern Cheyenne Reservation

Norma Wolfchief Gourneau, vice president of the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Council, shared information about the tribe, which consists of 7,080 members, most of whom reside on the reservation in southeastern Montana. There are approximately 2,545 school-age children, with 867 young adults between 19 and 24 years of age. The population of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe is relatively young, and there are varied educational opportunities on the reservation ranging from a tribally controlled school to public schools. In addition, there are about six schools, private and public, in the surrounding areas that serve reservation students. Reaching those schools requires considerable traveling time for the children. Our children have historically traveled many miles to off-reservation schools, some of whom were in buses three to four hours a day, she said.[26]

Ms. Gourneau explained that in 1997 the Northern Cheyenne Tribe and the Lame Deer Public School District successfully lobbied Congress for a new high school in Lame Deer, within the reservation boundaries.[27] The Northern Cheyenne Reservation, she said, was the only reservation in Montana without a permanent public high school facility, and the Lame Deer community was the only one of its size anywhere in the state without such a facility. We are excited about the construction of the new school and hope that it begins to alleviate the alarming dropout rate of our young children, she said.[28]

Throughout its long history, the Northern Cheyenne Tribe has stressed education. Ms. Gourneau said, Today we have tribal members who are teachers, lawyers, doctors, computer programmers, foresters, accountants, social workers and so forth. However, for each successful tribal member, we have young children who are dropping out of school, especially at the high school level. During the 1996 school year, there was a 49 percent dropout rate among high school students.[29]

Ms. Gourneau discussed the importance of bilingual education and said curricula need to be updated continuously. She also said:

We need to require that as part of the requirements for teaching in public schools whose majority of students are Native American the teacher should have a certification in the language particular to that tribe. There should also be a requirement for teachers to be required to take cultural sensitivity classes.[30]

Ms. Gourneau said parents have the primary responsibility to ensure that their children go to school every day, but the schools have a responsibility to provide a strong educational base, a quality curriculum, and other services to meet the special needs of Native American students. Tribal governments need to support education projects and seek funding to enable their members to go to college and/or trade schools. The State Legislature needs to provide sufficient funding for education and emphasize prevention of truancy, rather than funneling funds from education to build more prisons.[31]

One problem experienced by children living on the reservation and attending school off-reservation has been the lack of activity buses. The school districts actively recruit Indian students to attend their schools, but fail to provide the opportunity to participate in the recreational and social activities of the school, which further prevents Indian students from feeling like they are part of the school. Ms. Gourneau also explained that many of the disciplinary actions taken by the school appear to treat infractions of Indian students more harshly than those of non-Indian students. Further, one of the harshest measures taken by off-reservation school districts is to suspend students from riding the bus if the bus driver decides their behavior is unacceptable. For those parents who have chosen to send their children to a public school off-reservation, that is a real hardship to them because they then have to transport their child at least 50 miles one way to school. For those families who lack transportation, their children miss days of school.[32]

Tim Lame Woman Sr., member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, expressed his concern with the lack of communication between school districts and parents, unrest among students of the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in school systems, and discrimination in employment. He said, My wife has a degree from college, and do you know what she's doing in our community? She has filed for employment in the school district. She's a bus driver, driving a bus for the school district the only job they'll give her. [33] Mr. Lame Woman alleged that school trustees do not hear or respond to the calls for help of Indian children who are sent to school every day to be placed in a teacher's hands, with school administrators who can only suspend and expel the students without even trying to deal with parents and their children's problems.[34]

Norma Bixby, director of the Northern Cheyenne Education Department, addressed the Montana Advisory Committee from several perspectives: representing tribal education for the Northern Cheyenne Tribe; from a state perspective as chair of the Montana Advisory Council for Indian Education (MACIE), which advises the Office of Public Instruction and the State Board of Public Education; as chair of the Dull Knife College Board of Directors; as a board member of the Montana Indian Education Association (MIEA); and as a member of the Montana Committee for Indians in Higher Education.[35] Ms. Bixby stated that as the director of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Education Program, she has observed that Indian children are not receiving a comparable education to non-Indian children in Montana's schools.[36] She explained that approximately 144 Native American students attend high school, which includes a small number of students from other tribes. However, she noted that there are 788 enrolled Northern Cheyenne tribal members living on the reservation that are of high school age.[37] Ms. Bixby said:

With all the opportunities to attend a school system, over 300 Cheyenne students are missing from the roles, and so these students aren't even in school. And they can't even be counted in a dropout rate . . . Each year our dropout rate increases and is now over 50 percent. This past spring [1996] there were 46 Native American high school graduates. Thirty-two of these students graduated from the schools on the reservation, which are predominantly Indian schools.[38]

Ms. Bixby noted that very few Native American courses are taught at the high school level on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, and one school does not offer a single Native American studies class.[39] Ms. Bixby referred to a study done in 1991 that examined dropout rates and patterns and academic achievement comparisons between Indian and non-Indian students.[40] She said, In my opinion, very little has changed since these [findings] were completed and submitted to the school systems, so they haven't used this information to create any change within those systems. [41] Incoming students to Dull Knife Junior College are tested and some of the students who graduated from public schools are achieving below the fifth-grade level, which has caused Dull Knife to do a significant amount of remedial work to get those students prepared to go into a college system and to move on into the university system, if they so choose.[42] Ms. Bixby explained that special education and Title I information have been repeatedly requested from the Office of Public Instruction (OPI) because that information would be very helpful to the various organizations in making sound recommendations to OPI and the State Board of Education, and would assist organizations in making sound decisions regarding those particular children. [43] She indicated that the tribal education departments were directly involved in the development of the state plan for Indian education.[44] She told the Montana Advisory Committee:

I would like to say that although the state of Montana has made some progress in addressing our needs, there still isn't a strong commitment to provide dollars for Indian education at the state level. Another problem which makes it more difficult to provide equal education is the state superintendent must get approval from the State Legislature to spend any dollars that she generates for education. Any grant that she brings into the state to improve Indian education specifically must get legislative approval.[45]

Social Services Department, Northern Cheyenne Tribe

Jackie Tang, director of Social Services for the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, said the dropout rate of Native American students for the Northern Cheyenne Reservation is 52 percent.[46] Ms. Tang specifically addressed the Colstrip schools, which had a ratio of Indian students as follows: high school, 24 percent; middle school, 38 percent; grades three through five, 35 percent; and grades kindergarten through second, 38 percent.[47] Ms. Tang said she asked Colstrip High School administrators if they maintained dropout data and was informed that they did not. The only information she was able to obtain was sometimes students don't graduate because they are maybe half a credit short or a credit short from graduation. [48]

Addressing the issue of misplacement of Indian students in special education programs, Ms. Tang explained that her son, during his junior high years, had low test scores at the beginning of the school year, and staff requested that he be placed in special education. She refused his placement in special education and asked school personnel how they could make an evaluation based on one test. Ms. Tang reported that her son was currently a junior in high school and a member of the National Honor Society. She said more parents need to take a proactive role and refuse to allow their children to be placed in remedial classes. This would most likely result in fewer Indian children in special education.[49]

Ms. Tang explained that as director of Social Services on the reservation, she is aware that the agency receives a significant number of referrals from public schools regarding behavioral problems that teachers cannot handle.[50] She said the referral procedure and what is expected from the Department of Social Services should be reevaluated, and that there needs to be better communication among students, teachers, and counselors.[51] On a personal level, Ms. Tang said, Indian students are humiliated and degraded by some of the teachers. They are made to feel that they are not good enough academically. [52] She explained that her children have had first-hand experience with racism in the schools, and said one of her sons won a writing contest sponsored by the Anne Frank organization for his essay on his own experience with racism in Colstrip public schools.[53]

Crow Tribe, Crow Reservation

Joseph Pickett, vice chair of the Crow Tribal Council, said that among Indian people, getting an education is very important, but that the current education system does not always meet their needs. Mr. Pickett said, I have yet to see educational values and standards determined based on an Indian child's actual needs. The effort that the state of Montana provides for quality education in Montana's public schools is to be commended, but even at that, it does not meet the actual needs of our children. [54] Quality education for Indian children should also include their language and cultural needs. He said, Quality education defined from the state of Montana only accommodates the educational needs of the non-Indian. [55] Although Mr. Picket serves on the Hardin School Board, he was critical of school boards in Montana and said, Indians are beginning to serve on school boards but they are only Indian tokens to avoid discrimination suits, and the school policies they adopt are only to perpetuate the policies coming from the non-Indian. [56] He further explained that Indian children's need for quality education is caught in the whirlwinds of the needs of non-Indian children. Public schools of Montana are frustrated because they are not able to meet quality education for our Indian children, and we rely on them for it, said Mr. Pickett.[57]

Arnold Jefferson, director of the Crow Tribal Education Department, said the tribe has education committee representatives in each district on the reservation, and the department is working to develop tribal education standards.[58] He said he could not share statistics because they are not collected, and when he asked schools for data, some were reluctant to give data.[59] Funds are needed for such resources as staff and technology, he added.[60]

Elizabeth Reece, education specialist and contracting officer with the Crow Tribe, said there are about 1,800 students who reside on the reservation and attend schools on or near the reservation, including in Billings.[61] Ms. Reece explained that the tribe has tried to identify students graduating from high school to present each student with a monetary award; however, the tribe has had a great deal of difficulty in identifying those students who are attending school in Billings because the school district told the tribe that the district is prohibited by law from identifying its students by race.[62] Ms. Reece said, So we have to kind of go through who we know [personally] and identify each student, or let the families know that the money is available as a reward for their students, and then they come to us. We have no easy way of identifying Indian students in those schools on or near the reservation. [63] Ms. Reece said the tribe continues to work with the Billings School District because of the large number of Crow children who attend Billings schools. She said the tribe is especially interested in identifying those students because the students who are off the reservation quite often do not have access to the counseling and the staff members of the departments which can help them seek educational opportunities to further their education or strengthen their education program. [64] During the spring of 1996, approximately 80 on-reservation students graduated, and approximately 30 graduated who were attending off-reservation schools.[65]

Ms. Reece said the dropout rate is of great concern to the Crow Tribe, but because there are so many variables it is difficult to determine exact dropout figures.[66] The Tribal Education Committee started to study the issue of dropouts five years ago by beginning to track the freshman students in their schools. Because of the high mobility rate of the students, it was impossible to accomplish that task. She said, We couldn't keep up with the study without having several full-time people on that project, and we were forced at the end of the second year to drop the study simply because it was in such disarray without any full-time research staff that could address the issue. [67] Further, counselors do not always have the time to track people to find out where they went and whether they enrolled in another school. When you're looking at Hardin public schools, Lodge Grass, Plenty Coups, Busby, Ashland, and now Lame Deer with a new school, those kids can move out, and we can't catch up with them. Many are lost through the cracks, she said.[68]

Ms. Reece provided the following enrollment rates of ninth-grade students at Hardin High School:

Native American


1995 96 school year/ 9th grade



1996 97 school year/ 10th grade



She said, as the numbers indicate, 15 Indian students were lost compared with nine white students.[69]

Ms. Reece said the Crow Tribe strongly believes that there is apathy and indifference among non-Indian staff who teach on or near the reservation, and strongly supports the need for some sort of mandated legislation. [70] She recalled the early 1970s, when Indian educators attempted to teach Native American history and studies courses to a very resistant group of non-Indian teachers who resented having to take [those] course[s]. She said, They would sit in class all day on Saturdays and they did not want to be there. But she continues to believe a positive impact was made on those teachers.[71] She also said the tribe strongly believes it has lost the active involvement of parents in school, and that is why children are dropping out.[72]

Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribal Council, Flathead Reservation

Gary Stevens, member of the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribal Council, told the Montana Advisory Committee, Indian children on our reservation do indeed have a difficult time surviving and graduating from public schools. In the 1995 96 academic year, only 46 enrolled tribal members graduated from high school out of a total of 382 students. He said it is alarming and unacceptable that so few tribal members are graduating from reservation high schools, and the tribes have begun a comprehensive analysis of school data wherein students (enrolled Confederated Salish & Kootenai) will be tracked from entry through graduation.[73]

Mr. Stevens said:

The Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribal Council acknowledges that there are some obvious issues that must be addressed in determining why students are not completing school, but there is also a need to strengthen curriculum and environmental factors that will increase the likelihood of success. The tribe also realizes that not all of the reasons for the failure of children rest with the schools. Native American parents need to be given the skills and resources to promote their children through the schools.[74]

The specific issues of student failure on the reservation include the lack of Indian role models as teachers in the classroom, with only 18 Native American teachers out of a total of 475. There are no Indian administrators working in the reservation's public schools.[75] Mr. Stevens provided statistics on several school districts, and some are listed below:

The Salish & Kootenai Tribe recommended that:

Salish-Kootenai College, Flathead Reservation

Joe McDonald, president of Salish-Kootenai College on the Flathead Reservation, has served as a high school principal, a teacher, and a college professor.[78] He first explained that, historically, it has been difficult for Native American candidates to get elected to school boards. However, Native Americans are serving on school boards at Arlee, Dixon, St. Ignatius, and Polson.[79] He further said there are few Indian role models in the public schools on the Flathead Reservation.[80] Regarding the accomplishments of Native Americans and incorporating that information into school curriculum, he said there is a joint social studies curriculum project between Charlo, Ronan, and Polson public schools that attempts to address the issue of limited acknowledgment of the contributions of Native Americans.[81] The contributions of Native Americans, he said, are published, and easily accessible. [82] Dr. McDonald said students on the reservation do not receive any class time in tribal government or tribal law, and yet these students will go out into the community and earn their livelihood as farmers and ranchers, as tribal employees, etc., and the friction will continue.[83] Indian children are treated unfairly when the school curriculum and the daily lesson plans omit all references to who they are and the contributions their people have made to help make today's world what it is, he said.[84]

Dr. McDonald also told the Advisory Committee that Indian children learn differently:

The learning styles of our Indian children are disregarded on a large scale. Indian children like to see the whole concept before it is broken down into its parts. They want to see references to tribes and Indians and not have that type of information omitted. They want to share and learn collectively. They need to be accommodated with make-up work when they miss [school] for cultural reasons and for family reasons.[85]

Dr. McDonald addressed teacher apathy and said there are many excellent teachers eager to teach Indian children and get acquainted with the Indian community. However, there are some run-of-the-mill teachers, who after a few years of teaching, are ineffective in reaching Indian children regardless of whether the children have personal, social, or learning problems.[86] Dr. McDonald said he could tell when a student has low self-esteem. He said, If you don't have pride in yourself, if the school is not meeting your needs, you [the student] are more likely to act out than you would if you were comfortable there and getting along. [87] In closing, Dr. McDonald said Native Americans make up only a very small percentage of the state's population and their vote counts little. In lieu of that, Native Americans must rely on public servants who are unbiased, clear thinking, and humanitarians. He said that fortunately there are a number of excellent representatives available to serve Indian people.[88]

Little Shell Tribal Council

Tobe Whitaker, secretary-treasurer of the Little Shell Tribal Council, told the Montana Advisory Committee that the tribe is concerned with Chippewa-Cree children and Native American children who attend Great Falls schools. The tribe has established home-school coordinators members of the Little Shell Tribe who are responsible for working closely with Native American students and their families.[89] Although 30 Native American students graduated out of a possible 39, the tribe feels that is not good enough. The Great Falls School District had been unable to provide the tribe with graduation statistics of Native American students going back to 1990.

[1] Earl Old Person, statement before the Montana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, fact-finding meeting, Missoula, MT, Apr. 24, 1997, transcript, p. 206 (hereafter cited as Transcript 2).

[2] Ibid.

[3] John Morales, statement before the Montana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, fact-finding meeting, Billings, MT, Dec. 10, 1996, transcript, p. 18 (hereafter cited as Transcript 1).

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid., pp. 18 19.

[6] Ibid., p. 19.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid., pp. 20 21.

[11] Ibid., p. 21.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid., p. 24. Mr. Morales referred to a school outing to Helena. None of the students in the group was interested in being teachers. Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid., p. 29. Information refers to the 1996 graduating class.

[18] Desiree Lambert, Transcript 1, p. 246. Ms. Lambert was representing tribal chairman Caleb Shields. The Fort Peck Tribe represents the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes.

[19] Ibid., p. 247. The tribal executive board is duly elected by the tribe and is empowered to act on behalf of the tribes. Ibid., p. 246.

[20] Ibid., p. 247. The education code title was part of the comprehensive code of justice to promote intragovernment understanding and coordination of branches, agencies, and entities of the Fort Peck tribal government on the purposes, standards, and functions of education on the reservation. Beginning May 1994, community input was obtained from parents and educators. Ibid.

[21] Ibid., pp. 247 48. This draft code was circulated for public comment and was also considered at six public hearings held across the reservation.

[22] Ibid., p. 248.

[23] Ibid., pp. 249 50.

[24] Ibid., pp. 251 52.

[25] Ibid., pp. 252 53.

[26] Ibid., pp. 212 13.

[27] Ibid., p. 213. The efforts to secure a high school for the Northern Cheyenne started back in the 1960s. Ibid., p. 214.

[28] Ibid., p. 214.

[29] Ibid., p. 215.

[30] Ibid., p. 216. The Northern Cheyenne Tribal Council recently enacted legislation that proclaimed the Northern Cheyenne language as the official language of the reservation. The schools within the boundaries of the reservation provide language programs, but surrounding schools do not. Ibid., p. 215.

[31] Ibid., p. 217.

[32] Ibid., p. 218.

[33] Tim Lame Woman Sr., Transcript 1, pp. 302 04. Mr. Lame Woman participated in the public session of the fact-finding meeting. His remarks were his own; he was not representing the Northern Cheyenne Tribe.

[34] Ibid., p. 304.

[35] Norma Bixby, Transcript 1, pp. 84 85. Ms. Bixby's involvement with the organizations she is affiliated with is to help other educators and individuals interested in improving the educational opportunities for Native Americans in Montana, as well as on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation. Ibid., p. 85.

[36] Ibid., p. 85. The Northern Cheyenne Tribe is a young tribe, with half of its population under the age of 18. Indian children have the choice of attending six public schools, one tribal school, and one private school on or near the reservation. About 1,600 Indian students attend these schools, including those in the Head Start program. Ibid., p. 86.

[37] Ibid., p. 86.

[38] Ibid.

[39] Ibid., p. 87.

[40] The study, conducted by Carol Ward and David Wilson, was titled The Effects of School Experiences on Northern Cheyenne High School Completion. Ibid., pp. 87 88.

[41] Ibid., p. 88.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid., p. 89. Title I, Part A, of Public Law 103-382, Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

[44] Ibid. More than 300 participants at two separate meetings developed the document.

[45] Ibid., pp. 91 92.

[46] Jackie Tang, Transcript 2, p. 179. These data include Native American children enrolled in public, BIA, and Catholic schools on and off the reservation. Ibid.

[47] Ibid., p. 180.

[48] Ibid.

[49] Ibid., pp. 180 81.

[50] Ibid., p. 181.

[51] Ibid., pp. 182 83.

[52] Ibid., p. 184.

[53] Ibid., p. 185.

[54] Joseph Pickett, Transcript 2, p. 239. Mr. Pickett also serves on the Hardin School Board.

[55] Ibid., p. 240.

[56] Ibid., p. 241.

[57] Ibid.

[58] Arnold Jefferson, Transcript 1, p. 94. The Crow Tribal Education Department was founded in 1990. Emphasis is on direct services to students, specifically Head Start. Ibid.

[59] Ibid., p. 97.

[60] Ibid.

[61] Elizabeth Reece, Transcript 1, pp. 235 36. The Crow Reservation is adjacent to the city of Billings. It encompasses 2.2 million acres, and the Crow Tribe has about 10,000 enrolled members, of whom about 6,500 live on the reservation. Ibid., p. 236.

[62] Ibid., p. 236. The Crow Tribe also tries to identify future graduates in order to present them with an incentive award for their graduation. Ibid.

[63] Ibid., pp. 236 37.

[64] Ibid., p. 237.

[65] Ibid. Of the 30 students who attended schools off reservation, some were Montana residents and others were out-of-state students. The exact number of out-of-state students was not provided. Ibid.

[66] Ibid., pp. 237 38.

[67] Ibid., p. 239.

[68] Ibid., p. 240. Truancy has been an ongoing issue, especially when a student who lives on the reservation attends school off the reservation. Jurisdictional problems between the tribal court and county courts are prevalent. Ibid.

[69] Ibid., p. 242.

[70] Ibid., p. 244.

[71] Ibid., pp. 244 45.

[72] Ibid., p. 245.

[73] Gary Stevens, Transcript 2, p. 222.

[74] Ibid., pp. 221 22.

[75] Ibid., p. 222.

[76] Ibid., pp. 224 25. Data and information were compiled through the tribe's education department. The education department has been functioning for four years. Ibid.

[77] Ibid., pp. 232 33.

[78] Joe McDonald, Transcript 2, p. 10. Dr. McDonald has more than 30 years of experience in education, in addition to serving as a council member for the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribe for eight years. Ibid.

[79] Ibid., p. 14; Joe McDonald, letter to Rocky Mountain Regional Office, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, May 23, 1997, as an addendum to his testimony at the Apr. 24, 1997, fact-finding meeting (hereafter cited as McDonald Letter).

[80] Joe McDonald, Transcript 2, p. 12.

[81] McDonald Letter, p. 1. The joint project is no longer operational.

[82] Joe McDonald, Transcript 2, p. 12; McDonald Letter, p. 1.

[83] Joe McDonald, Transcript 2, p. 13. Native American students at Ronan High School are required to take a semester of government. Ibid.

[84] Ibid., p. 19.

[85] Ibid., p. 16.

[86] Ibid., p. 18; McDonald Letter, p. 2.

[87] Joe McDonald, Transcript 2, p. 30.

[88] Ibid., pp. 18 19; McDonald Letter, p. 2. Some elected servants mentioned included the superintendent of public instruction, Nancy Keenan, and Lake County superintendent of schools, Joyce Decker Wegner.

[89] Tobe Whitaker, Transcript 2, pp. 233 34. Little Shell tribal members are also known as the landless Indians because they have no land (no reservation) and receive no federal funds. Ibid.