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History of Native American Education

This is a guide to materials about the history of Native American education that were purchased thanks to a grant from the Southwest Border Cultural Institute.

Southwest and Border Cultures Institute

The Southwest and Border Cultures Institute was founded in November 1998 upon the receipt of a Challenge Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The NEH award of $450,000 was matched by $1.35 million in non-federal dollars to create a permanent $1.8 million dollar endowment. The purpose of SBCI is to enable acquisitions by the University Library and Museum and to fund faculty and graduate student research, lectures and outreach on Southwest and U.S.-Mexico border humanities issues.

SBCI is administered by a council chaired by the Director of the College of Arts and Sciences Research Center, with representatives from the Departments of Anthropology, English, History, and the Spanish program in the Department of Languages and Linguistics, and from the University Museum and University Library.

History of Native American Education Grant

Expand Library Collections in the History and Future of Native American Education in the Southwest Border Region

Coordinators:  John Sandstrom, Associate Professor, Acquisitions Librarian
Dana Christman, Associate Professor, Educational Leadership & Administration

ID Problem or issue

Native American education is an interdisciplinary area with ties in a broad range of research interests within both the Humanities and Education.  From the NEH definition of “humanities” these include Anthropology, Literature, Jurisprudence, Philosophy, Archaeology, Comparative religion, Ethics, Native American Studies, Language & Linguistics, History, Sociology, Education, as well as other areas outside the immediate definition of “humanities”. 

Tribal education, in all these areas, is a central concern for the tribes as they continue to recognize how critical education at all levels is to their future.  The interests and programs of the Federal government in Native American education have waxed and waned through the years, resulting in the existence of an uneven collection in the library for these topics.  Today, with the changes occurring in Native American higher education, publishing in the area is increasing.  As the Bureau of Indian Education implements its reforms to encourage greater tribal self-determination in education, research interest in these areas will continue to grow.  It is therefore critical that the Library expand our collections in these areas.

Our current collection in Native American education is under 200 titles, primarily published before the year 2000.  With the SBCI grant it is our goal to add 60 titles (average price $50) to the collection that were published between the years of 2006 and 2016 with the emphasis on newer titles. 


The history and future of Native American education is closely bound up in the border region.  New Mexico and the tribes that reside in New Mexico and the border region have long histories with the Federal government and its attempts at providing education to the tribes both on and off the reservations.  NMSU has been a center of higher education used by all the tribes located in New Mexico and beyond. The Pueblos and the Navajos regularly send students here for teacher training before returning to the tribal schools.  These programs to address Native American educational needs promotes diversity, increases the awareness of the history, anthropology, and languages of the tribes of the border region.   

Knowing the history of tribal education is critical for planning the future of Native American education.  In the summer of 2014, the Departments of the Interior and Education released, “Findings and Recommendations Prepared by the Bureau of Indian Education Study Group Submitted to the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior and Education” ( which made five central recommendations.  These are:

  • Highly Effective Teachers and Principals
  • Agile Organizational Environment
  • Promote Educational Self-Determination for Tribal Nations
  • Comprehensive Supports through Partnerships
  • Budget that Supports Capacity-Building Mission

By supporting the expansion of NMSU collections in this area, we will have the research resources available to be better able to support educators, tribal entities, and state and federal government officials to support these recommendations in the border region.

Audience(s) to be addressed

There are several audiences we seek to address with this grant.  They include students of the history, sociology, and anthropology of the tribes in the Southwest and how the availability of higher education has affected them; students of educational leadership and administration for how to develop plans for the self-determination of tribal education, especially in higher education; and interdisciplinary students who wish to improve their credentials in response to the needs of the tribes and tribal schools. 

Need for SBCI Funding

Whereas the current library acquisitions budget can cover the basic needs of our programs, special collection expansions need extra funding from other sources.  SCBI is only the first of the organizations we are asking for assistance to improve the library’s collection in this area. 

Potential to generate additional funds and/or plans to publish from the SBCI activity

We will be sending additional grants to other agencies as we become aware of them.  This is an area of high interest at this time, with the renewed emphasis on it from the Federal government.  This grant will also support the publication of at least two peer-reviewed articles, one dissertation, and poster sessions at several conferences.

Timeline of Event

While no event is planned at this time, several ways of promoting these materials are being considered and could include”

  • Electronic bookplates in the library catalog acknowledging SBCI.
  • A LibGuide providing an introduction to the materials and research in this area.
  • A display or exhibit of materials in the library in conjunction with American Indian Week in 2016.

SBCI category or categories to which you are applying

We are currently applying for library acquisitions.