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Reservation Schools 2009 A WIKI Contribution by Indian Education 203, Fall, 2009

Indian Education in the United States has changed drastically over time. Originally small-scale, family and tradition-oriented, and varying widely from tribe to tribe, Indian education went through several stages after the arrival of Europeans and continues to evolve to this day. In conjunction with the devastating loss of land and repression of culture imposed on Native Americans by the United States government, boarding schools were once used to indoctrinate and strip Indian children of their language and traditions. Although more flagrant suppression has decreased, the use of assimilation and integration tactics in recent years have continued to keep Indian children from learning about their own culture, their own language, and their own heritage in any comprehensive or meaningful way. The purpose of this essay is to examine the various forms of education existent on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and to decide how schools are serving the Lakota people today. There are four types of schools on this reservation - Public, Private, BIA, and Grant schools - and it is our mission to investigate and evaluate all four.

638 Schools BIA funded schools are elementary or secondary schools that are funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and not subject to the jurisdiction of any SEA other than the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) operates 184 schools in 23 states, with a total enrollment of about 48,000 students. Of these, 59 are BIE-operated and 125 are tribally operated under BIE contracts or grants. There have been three major legislative actions that reconstructed the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) with regard to educating American Indians since 1921; the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975, and the Education Amendments Act of 1978. Public Law 93-638, or the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975, is referred to as the Indian Self-Determination Act. It allows authorization for the Secretaries of the Interior and of Health, Education, and Welfare and some other government agencies to enter into contract with and make grants directly to federally recognized Indian tribes. What schools on the Pine Ridge Reservation are Grant/Contract Schools (638)? American Horse Elementary – Allen, South Dakota; K-8 Total number of Teachers – 17 Native teachers – 7 out of 17 = 41% Number of students – 278 • Crazy Horse – Wanblee, South Dakota; K-12 Total number of Teachers – 31 Native teachers – 13 out of 31 = 42% Number of students – 296 • Little Wound Schools – Kyle, South Dakota; K-12 Total number of Teachers – 68 Native teachers – 29 out of 68 = 43% Number of students – 736 • Loneman School – Oglala, South Dakota; K-8 Total number of Teachers – 23 Native teachers – 16 out of 23 = 70% Number of students – 204 • Porcupine School – Porcupine, South Dakota; K-8 Total number of Teachers – 11 Native teachers – 5 out of 11 = 45% Number of students – 206

• Wounded Knee School – Manderson, South Dakota; K-8 Total number of Teachers – 17 Native teachers – 11 out of 17 = 65% Number of students – 125

Why might 638 schools be in a position to be more/less successful than other schools on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation? Jesse Red Willow writes “I am an optimist and want to say that these schools are in a position to be more successful because of local board control. In reality it usually is not so because of political influences outside of the classrooms. Steady policy can change, leaving administration and faculty without security. Aside from the mismanagement, under funded, under staffed, and out dated as far as capacity, these schools are what give hope to the future generations. These schools are a reflection of the community and we all know the dynamics that can influence the children’s lives. Teachers have the task of enriching the lives of the United States’ most impoverished, but not down, children.” Alice Big Crow writes “They might be more successful because it is community based and the people in the community have a say on what happens in the school system. 638 schools can also incorporate a more culturally relevant atmosphere for the students. Some of the drawbacks of 638 schools are as follows: they can be somewhat limited for teaching salaries, which may discourage Native American teachers to apply for the positions; 638 schools are allotted funding which the school board controls. If the money is mismanaged, this could cause the school to shut down.” Mary Linda Mead writes “The first task is to define what is successful. Teaching native children in traditional public school methods has proven not to be successful. Unfortunately there are not adequate resources to develop alternative methods. Teacher turn-over is high. Job security is low. Consequently the success of the system is challenged. Because this type of school is still in its infancy stage, these schools do have opportunities to improve while public schools continue to be restricted in the creativity of instruction.

561 Schools Public Law 95-561, also referred to as the Education Amendments Act of 1978, provided a formula for distributing funds to tribally operated schools, gave Native American School boards more operational authority, allowed teachers and staff to be hired locally on the reservation, and established a direct reporting line from Native educational leaders to the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs. Through this funding and decentralization of responsibility, Bureau of Indian Affairs schools are able to receive funds for students who need them and to allocate carryover funds as necessary for school needs. This law allowed BIA schools to operate and serve Native students.

What schools on the Pine Ridge Reservation are BIA (561)? Pine Ridge School (PreK-12)- Pine Ridge, SD

Pine Ridge School has 61 teachers total, 33 elementary teachers and 28 high school teachers. 49% of the teachers are non-Native and 51% are Native. The staff, as a whole, is 81% Native. They contract special services, which has a 33% Native staff. Pine Ridge serves 823 students.

Why might 561 schools be in a position to be more/less successful than the other schools on the reservation? BIA schools have tribal leaders with the authority, as stated by Public Law 95-561, to make decisions at a local level. This allows students to receive an education that is reflective of their upbringing and culture, which can better serve their needs and create an environment where they feel comfortable and engaged to learn. It meets students at their level and recognizes both the challenges and opportunities of life on the reservation. However, this also means that these different laws that the BIA schools are governed by can lack follow through from the appropriate government authorities and that the accountability for high standards comes from a different source. These differences mean that the students’ achievement is directly affected by how that school runs at a local level, without some of the necessary accountabilities and programs that are often present at schools not affected by P.L. 95-561. Why do they still run a dormitory system? Many students, especially for high schools, live a far distance from the available schools. As a result, it is often easier for them to live at the school rather than traveling that distance every morning. It also keeps them close to the resources that they need in order to complete assignments and gain academic support if needed. Other BIA schools in South Dakota According to the South Dakota Department of Education website, there are a total of 20 BIA schools in the state. The following statistics pertain to the 2008-2009 academic year for BIA schools across the state. There are 55 total administrators. Of those administrators, 1 is African American 36 are Native 18 are Caucasian There are a total of 586 instructors. Of those instructors, 2 are African American

            2 are Asian
            2 are Hispanic
            212 are Native
            368 are Caucasian

There are a total of 60 School Specialists (Speech Path, Reading Spec…)

            27 are Native 

33 are Caucasian

Public (874) Schools What do 874 schools provide for children in their educational endeavor? Children with hardships such as rapid growth and/or living in impoverished areas may not receive an adequate educational instruction as they should. Due to this lack of availability of funds, Public Law 81-874 was initially passed on July 13, 1950 for a period of four years. With the enactment of this law many schools were able to receive the necessary funds to provide education to those in need. Public Law 81-874 was initially started for those in areas where taxes were not paid to the state so they did not have the funds available to them for their educational needs. With this new law they would receive the financial assistance since they are still citizens of the United States which entitles them to educational services. Prior to the implementation of this law, Native American children were forced to attend schools in dilapidated barracks and Quonset huts, or leave the reservation entirely. This was the reason for so many being brought up in boarding schools that taught them how to not be Native American. These children were forced to conform to a new way of life that did not incorporate their true heritage. In order to accommodate all of the children in the schools the funding had to be effectively determined. The per pupil basis was examined as well as the individual income levels of the parents and community that the school resides in. In return however, many reservation members and businesses generate money that is outsourced to the off-reservations businesses which is stimulating the economy. With this outflow, the government is in turn receiving much of the money back for assisting the education of Native American students on reservations.

    What schools on this reservation are public  schools(874)? 
The Shannon County Schools are public schools and are located in four different places on the reservation.  It also has a virtual high school which is very helpful for the ones who live in remote areas. 
    Batesland is a pre-k to 8th grade school located in Batesland, South Dakota.  The next school is in the Red Shirt Community located in the North West end of the reservation, which is a k-8 school.  Another, Rockyford School is located in the small community of Rockyford and serves the surrounding rural area.  Lastly, the Wolf Creek School, about six miles east of Pine Ridge is a pre-k to 8th grade school like Rockyford School and serves the Pine Ridge area.  
    The South Dakota Department of Education approved the courses taken in the virtual high school program (SCVHS).  Shannon County Virtual High School has a principal and teachers which interact with the students online.  

Why might public schools be in a position to be more/less successful than the other schools on the reservation? It may be that when money comes from another source than the local sector, the ones who are in charge of the funds usually get a little lax. So from statistics, it shows that the public schools are less efficient than a private school or say another school that has more checks and balances in place, whether it be with the academics or with other spending of dollars, the money that was in the budget was spent on things just to keep the levy up so they could get more money from the state. The money may have been better spent on getting more qualified teachers and administrators to better benefit the students. Some public schools appear to be more worried about the state standards and aid, than actual education. Public schools on the reservation follow a state curriculum and standards that may not be appropriate for Native students. The schools do offer Lakota culture classes but the effort seems inconsequential.

Private Schools The private schools on the reservation such as, Red Cloud Indian School and Our Lady of Lourdes have aimed to give Lakota students the skills and education they need to compete in an extended society while keeping the traditional values of our Lakota culture. What schools on the Pine Ridge Reservation are private schools? The private schools on the Pine Ridge Reservation are Red Cloud Indian School (grades pre-K through 12), Our Lady of Lourdes School (grades K-8) and the Lakota Waldorf School. Both of the latter are Catholic schools run (respectively) by the Jesuit order of brothers and the Franciscan order of sisters. According to the history related by a tour guide at Red Cloud Indian School and the School's website, the school was founded upon request from Chief Red Cloud of the Oglala Lakota. Red Cloud Indian School was founded in 1888 while OLL was founded in 1931. The two are affiliated, with OLL typically serving as a feeder school for Red Cloud. The Lakota Waldorf School was founded in 1993 by a group of Lakota parents and is focused on teaching the Lakota language.

Red Cloud Middle School has 210 students, 17 Teachers out of that 2 are Native American, High School has 202 students, 34 teachers with 4 Native American teachers, OLL has 137 students, 9 teachers and 3 Native American teachers.

Why might private schools be in a position to be more/less successful than the other schools on the reservation? Because the expectations of the students that attend Red Cloud Indian School and OLL are set high the community can presume that these schools are in a position to be more successful than the other schools on the reservation. Although OCS (Oglala Community School) was established February 2, 1879, nine years before Red Cloud Indian School today RCIS serve nearly 600 students compared to OCS' 1000 students. This student teacher ratio can be an example of the quality education students receive at Red Cloud. In addition to the required basic curriculum, RC students must also take courses in ethics, religion, Lakota culture, Lakota religion and Lakota Language.


The above information summarizes the four types of schools on the reservation, Public, Private, BIA, and Grant schools, all of which currently serve Lakota students in different areas. Each of these schools is funded by a different source and thus subject to different rules and authority, but each has its benefit. As a quick summary, Grant or 638 schools are funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and run by local board control. 561 or BIA schools, similarly, give tribal leaders more authority to make decisions at the local level. Public schools, however, are run and funded by the government with the intent to provide education to those who may not have been able to access it previously. The two private schools on the reservation are run by the Jesuit order of brothers and Franciscan order of sisters in a way that combines Lakota culture and heightened academic expectations. As a result of their differences, each school has benefits and downfalls that affect the students and their ability to receive an excellent education. BIA (561) and grant (638) schools both give Native administors, who are aware of the community, culture, and individual students, the ability to make decisions at a local level. However, they can also lend to the possibility of mismanagement, the lack of accountability to national standards, and inability to attract and retain excellent teachers. Public schools may be held more accountable with both funds and standards, but they lack the ability to truly run in a way that incorporates Lakota values and meets the unique needs of students on the reservation. Private schools have the combination of heightened expectations and the involvement of the community but are limited as to the number of students they take. As many have said throughout this article, it simply depends on what one values and how one defines success. Each school has both advantages and disadvantages when it comes to serving students. That being said, regardless of how a school is funded or who ultimately runs it, each can become an excellent school. With a caring and knowledgeable staff, every school on the reservation can overcome obstacles to reach every student both culturally and academically.