The Promise of IEFA

By Hopkins, Wendy | Phi Delta Kappan, November 2006 | Go to article overview

The Promise of IEFA


Hopkins, Wendy, Phi Delta Kappan


I AM A member of the Little Shell Chippewa tribe of Montana. Our tribe is not federally recognized and does not have a reservation. We gained state recognition in 2001. Although I grew up on the Fort Belknap Reservation, I never really belonged because, as people there saw it, I wasn't "really" Indian. But I also didn't belong in the white world. When I was able to enroll in my tribe, it changed everything for me. I began to see myself as an Indian person, and that gave me a place to belong and a people I belonged to.

I think Indian Education for All (IEFA) will have a similar effect on many Indian children. It will help our children understand who they are, take pride in their identity, and see that they have possibilities and opportunities. When I was in school, we didn't talk about being Indian. If we could, we kept it secret. That was a way to get along. But with IEFA, our children won't have to do that. They will see themselves in school. They will know that their classmates are learning important things about them. They can begin to believe that, when they meet non-Indian people, those people will have knowledge about their history and culture. That will make our children stronger, more confident. …

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