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Data on American Indian Students

American Indian Students
Data From the Indian and Public School Questionnaire

Who Are the American Indians?

"At the time of contact [with Europeans], the present United States territory encompassed native societies that ranged from small hunting and gathering groups (in Alaska, the Northwest, Atlantic Coast, and other locations) to relatively large political confederacies (such as the League of the Iroquois), as well as dense, sedentary communities (like those of the Eastern and Western Pueblos).
"At the time of Columbus' arrival, the total population in what became the United States is estimated to have been about 1 million, comprising 200 to 300 societies and some 2,000 language groupings. At least 100 native languages are still spoken today by more than 300 tribes" (Quality Education for Minorities Project 1990, p. 27).

American Indian Students Up arrow

"There are approximately 1.9 million American Indians and Alaskan Natives in the United States, with Navajos, Cherokees, and Alaskan Natives representing the three largest groups. Of the total, between 300,000 and 400,000 Natives are of school age. Natives represent about 1 percent of the total student population in the United States and, because of their relatively small numbers, are often lost in reports about educational achievement and progress.
"Contrary to the public's image of Native children being taught in separate reservation schools, 85 to 90 percent are educated in public schools; the rest attend schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs [BIA], Indian contract schools, or private schools. In most States, Natives account for a small share of the population, but they make up at least 9 percent of the public school enrollment in Alaska, Oklahoma, and New Mexico (U.S. Department of Education 1991, p. 2)

Data From the Indian and Public School Questionnaire Up arrow

Large percentages of American Indian/Alaskan Native students live in poverty, regardless of types of school attended. Over 40 percent of elementary/secondary American Indian children speak English as a second language; also, over 60 percent receive remedial instruction in mathematics (U.S. Department of Education/NCES 1991b).
Nearly 88 percent of American Indian students attending BIA or tribal schools are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. In public schools where the American Indian enrollment exceeds 25 percent, over 61 percent of the American Indian students qualify for the lunch programs, contrasting with the 32 percent of American Indian students who qualify in those public schools where the enrollment of American Indians is 25 percent or less.
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