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  1. Dec 2017
    1. The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act

      The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA) was passed in 1975 by the Congress of the United States and increased the amount of self-governance of the native peoples1. If any Native American tribe requests a “self-determination” contract from the federal government, the government is obligated to give them one. This contract gives the tribe funding for programs and gives it the responsibility of running services administered by the federal government. The federal government is also required to provide “contract support costs” – the additional transaction costs of the Act. These costs are only enacted when the tribe decides to plan its own programs without the government’s help. The Act gives the native peoples a lot of freedom and leeway, as they are able to create something they can call their own through these government-provided funds. Funding for the ISDEAA comes from the Indian Self-Determination Fund, which has its limitations: the Availability Clause and the Reduction Clause. The Availability Clause provides that funds are subject to availability of appropriations, and the Reduction Clause states that funding to one tribe cannot be reduced to gain more funding for another2.         This Act has been one of the most important legislative acts for Indians because it greatly affects them in a positive way. The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act “…has been a key driver in improving communities throughout Indian country”3. One example of this would be the lives of the Navajos in Arizona. The Director of the Rough Rock Demonstration School told the Inquiry that under this new legislation they have established their own school system. The director describes the benefits of this, “Navaho people…are running a sophisticated school, unabashedly oriented to Navaho children”1. All of the staff comes from the community – giving the Navajos more jobs and income. The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act not only improves the education of Native Americans, but their quality of life as well. This principle of native self-determination in education was already accepted in Canada in 1972. The National Indian Brotherhood wrote a policy paper called the Indian Control of Indian Education, which was accepted the following year1. The acceptance of native people’s self-governance was clearly growing in the 1970s. Because of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, Native Americans were and are able to control more aspects of their lives, especially education.

      A Navajo woman, Kathryn Manuelito, conducted research to emphasize the importance of education to the Indians. After studying the Navajo peoples she stated that “Since the passage of the Indian Self-Determination Act, which provides for tribal- and community based schools, many Indian peoples have considered formal education to be a primary force in the survival of their languages and cultures"4. The indigenous also believe that the act preserves their rights. Manuelito concluded that the traditional Navajo education that resulted from the Act has advanced and helped the Navajo to maintain their existing identities. By the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, Indian cultures, especially the Navajo, were able to be preserved4.

      Picture: http://data2.archives.ca/ap/a/a185534-v8.jpg Caption: Reverend Lachlan McLean counsels student soldier at Indian Residential School in the 1970s.


      1. Thomas Berger, “Native Claims,” in Northern Frontier Northern Homeland: The Report of the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry. (Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1988), 183.
      2. Elizabeth M. Glazer, “Comments – Appropriating Availability: Reconciling Purpose and Text Under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act,” The University of Chicago Law Review 71, no. 4 (2004):1637-1638.
      3. United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Indian Affairs (1993), Amending the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act to Provide Further Self-Governance by Indian Tribes, and for Other Purposes: Report (to Accompany S. 979). (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Publishing Office, 2015), 1-2.
      4. Kathryn Manuelito, “The Role of education in American Indian Self-Determination: Lessons from the Ramah Navajo Community School,” Anthropology & Education Quarterly 36, no. 1 (2005): 73-75. http://doi:10.1525/aeq.2005.36.1.073.