Sustaining American Indian Culture Through Education

Dr Susan Barfield
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Receiving a U.S. national 'Best Practices' award from the National Association of Colleges of Teacher Education in 2003, the Big Horn Teachers Projects significantly increased the number of American Indian (AI) certified teachers in Montana, held four summer institutes and 81 school inservices integrating AI concepts into state and local curricula, and included components for integration in university courses. Multicultural libraries were established at both Montana State University-Billings and the tribal college, Little Big Horn College. This presentation will include the successes and obstacles encountered in implementation in addition to how these projects have assisted in sustaining the Crow language and culture on the Crow Reservation and in the state of Montana. A discussion with questions will conclude the presentation.

Keywords: Education, Higher Education, Indigenous Languages, Indigenous Culture, American Indian (Crow), Teacher Education, Teacher Professional Development
Stream: Cultural Sustainability
Presentation Type: Workshop Presentation in English
Paper: Sustaining American Indian Culture through Education

Dr Susan Barfield

Associate Professor, Department of Educational Theory and Practice
Department of Music, Montana State University-Billings


In the past 32 years, I have taught in K-12 public schools in three U.S. states and in Japan, Micronesia, and Germany as well as eight years at the university level. Currently an Associate Professor in Education/Music, I was the Principal Writer, Project Director, and Project Investigator for two U.S. federal grants ($2.2 million) whose objectives were to sustain American Indian (AI) culture, specifically the Crow Tribe in Montana, by increasing the number of AI certified teachers and assisting implementation of a Montana state law requiring integration of indigenous culture into all Montana classrooms through school in-services, multicultural libraries, and four summer institutes. Program evaluation consultant work includes a 20-year association with the prestigious Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington D.C. I was also a contributing author to Swain and Johnson's "Immersion Education: International Perspectives." With the English Only movement gathering momentum in the United States, I am interested in how to preserve AI culture through our educational systems.

Ref: S06P0245