Inspiring Students Project

An Educational Alliance between Pueblo Indian Communities and the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center

The Inspiring Students Project is a partnership between Pueblo communities and the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center to develop student programs focused on issues that Pueblo people themselves have identified as priorities: the preservation of their native languages, cultures, and histories; providing culturally relevant educational experiences that inspire students to succeed academically and professionally; and creating more economic opportunities within native communities.

The project team will design a comprehensive pre-K through post-college program that prepares students for undergraduate and graduate studies leading to professional degrees. The project will include the development of a community-based, career-focused curriculum, as well as a rigorous mentorship program to guide and encourage students. Ultimately, the goals of the Inspiring Students Project are to increase college graduation rates, instill in students a commitment to community, and train the next generation of tribal leaders, educators, and managers.

The need for improved education and economic opportunities in American Indian communities is well documented:

  • In 2014, the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, reported a 2012 high school graduation rate of only 67 percent for American Indians/Alaska Natives, well below the national average of 80 percent.
  • In 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 2012 unemployment rate of 12.3 percent for American Indians/Alaska Natives, higher than the national rate of 8.1 percent.
  • Fewer and fewer young American Indians achieve fluency in their native languages. Because language is such an integral part of culture, community-based language preservation programs have become an important priority for many American Indian tribes, including Pueblo peoples.
  • During Crow Canyon’s 2011 and 2012 strategic-planning sessions, the Native American Advisory Group determined that the best way for Crow Canyon to address the needs of tribal partners would be to assist in the development of education programs and curricula designed to preserve traditional culture and to increase economic opportunities for Pueblo youth.

With a generous four-year grant from the King Family Foundation, Crow Canyon is working with Pueblo leaders, educators, and tribal institutions on the planning phase of the Inspiring Students Project. In 2014, the project team will research national pre-collegiate and collegiate programs that improve student graduation rates; these will serve as models for the development of, first, a curriculum that engages students and prepares them for professional leadership roles in their communities, and, second, a mentorship program to help them graduate from high school and college. The curriculum itself will focus on skills appropriate to careers in language, culture, and historic preservation, as well as in cultural and natural resource management on tribal lands. The curriculum will be used in tribal schools and Crow Canyon campus programs for native students.

Photo of high school students from Santa Ana Pueblo.

On a 2011 school trip to Crow Canyon, high school students from Santa Ana Pueblo learn about Pueblo history where that history happened.

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