Engaging Indigenous Communities in Higher Education: An Analysis of Collaboration and Ownership in Alaska Native Teacher Preparation
In 2008, our institution was awarded an Office of Indian Education pre-service teacher preparation grant intended to increase the number of Alaska Native/ American Indian teachers in Alaska. Our research examines grant objectives and outcomes, specifically related to the institution’s stated focus on “culturally responsive teacher preparation” and “preserving and advancing” Alaska Native languages and cultures. We also explore challenges and opportunities encountered during the development of a cultural mentoring community for Alaska Native pre-service teachers, facilitated through collaboration with two Alaska Native teacher community organizations. Our work is informed by foundational literature in Indigenous culture-based pedagogy (Demmert & Towner, 2003), Indigenous higher education (Brayboy, 2012), and culturally responsive/ culturally relevant pedagogy (Ladson-Billings, 1994). Decolonizing methodologies and TribalCrit (Castagno, 2012) are particularly significant in our analysis, as the institution’s mission, vision, and strategic directions initiatives appear to be at odds with outcomes that suggest a continuation of top-down, colonized practices that perpetuate marginalization of Alaska Native students.
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