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Native American Youths

- April 24, 2015
Can new federal programs improve their lives?
  • Overview
  • Current Situation
  • Chronology
  • Pro/Con
  • More...
Featured Report

Young American Indians and Native Alaskans face some of the most difficult social and economic challenges of any American youths. Native youths are exposed to violence at higher rates than any other racial or ethnic group in the country, and more than one in three lives in poverty. They also have the lowest high school graduation rate and much higher levels of substance abuse and suicide. Efforts to address these problems are underway at both the national and tribal levels. President Obama has proposed increased funding for Indian programs, including ones aimed at improving school quality and enhancing post-secondary career and technical vocational training. In addition, he has initiated Bureau of Indian Education reforms to increase tribal control of schools on Native lands. Meanwhile, some tribes are developing educational standards rooted in their local language and culture, while others are using peer groups to help Native youths talk openly about suicide, violence, substance abuse and other problems.

Administration Proposals

President Obama’s plans are aimed at helping Native youths.

State Efforts

Some require public schools to cover Native culture.

Tribal Efforts

Native communities seek to improve education, reduce youth suicide.

1880sU.S. completes subjugation of Indian tribes and begins policy of forced assimilation of Native American children.
1924–1934Native Americans gain citizenship; New Deal brings brief shift in Indian policy.
1953–1966U.S. tries to end special relationships between tribes and federal government; Indian political activism grows.
1970–1988President Richard M. Nixon reverses decades of federal policy by allowing Indians the right of self-determination.
1994-PresentCongressional and administrative actions continue to expand tribal authority.

Should Indian schools have to meet federal and state performance measures?


Denise Juneau
Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction; Member, Mandan and Hidatsa Tribes.


Dave Archambault Sr.
Member and Consultant, Hunkpapa Lakota Tribe; Former principal, superintendent and college president.
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