A basic tenet of adult remedial education is to begin with what students know and then connect that knowledge to new information and skills. This practice provides a familiar foundation on which students can build. Additionally, cultural concepts are internal. They may be more emotional than rational, but they are an essential part of who we are. Al though this characteristic certainly is not restricted to Native Americans, perhaps we need to be more conscious of it when we work with Native American students. Providing a connection with their roots may enable them to more easily make sense out of new infor mation. If this practice produces more receptive students, who more readily assimilate new skills, then this may be a most efficient method to use.
Arizona is not limited to the 21 tribes that are recognized by the federal government. There are many other tribes who live both on and off the reservations. Zuni, Cree, Creek, Cherokee, Lambee, Ute, Comanche, Laguna, Hoopa, and Crow to name some. There are many marriages between different tribes and between Native Americans and non-Native Americans. All these influence Native Americans so it is difficult to talk about one or two specific tribes because they are different. So, one would have to learn about the tribe(s) of his/her students. If the class is on a reservation get to know the customs and traditions of that particular tribe.
A teacher would have to learn about the tribal background of the community as well as the student's background to better understand the student. This may done be through discussions in an informal setting and attendance at community and social functions. When first getting to know the individual or community, do not ask too many questions. Some times this may come across to a Native American as being nosy. Allow individual to volun teer information and then ask questions on the particular subject. Once you develop trust with an individual or family then it is okay to ask questions. Here again, building the relationship and trust is a very important factor. This may be due to the mistrust of non -Native Americans because of the federal government, land, and other issues such as par ents' personal experiences in boarding schools, mission schools or public schools, etc.).
|Table of Contents||Understanding Native Americans and Acculturation||Strategies for Teaching Native Americans|