Originally created in 2004, the Institute for American Indian Education (IAIE) was created by Native education faculty in the College of Education in response to the overwhelming need to increase the number of Native American teachers and improve American Indian Education. Passage of the Indian Education by the New Mexico State Legislature in 2003 identified a number of key areas for improvement including increasing the number of Native American teachers and the need for native language maintenance among youth and support of language initiatives in communities and schools. The New Mexico Public Education Department’sIndian Education Division (NM PED’s IED) provided initial funding support for the institute from years 2004 to 2010. During these years, the goals of IAIE were to:
- Increase the number of American Indian teachers and administrators in New Mexico through tuition assistance;
- Support the preservation and revitalization of Native languages through training and technical assistance to New Mexico communities;
- Provide a forum for educators, scholars, tribal leaders, and the wider education community to examine critical issues in Indian education;
- Engage in research and exploration of innovative ideas and approaches for the improvement of Indian education in New Mexico.
The institute was able to support more than 80 American Indian students with successful completions with degrees in education and provide 139 scholarships to those that were studying to become teachers. At the same time, Native faculty in the Department of Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies (LLSS) were supported in their outreach work with tribal communities, Native history and government curriculum development work, and training for Native language teachers. While some of the original IAIE faculty have since retired, current Native faculty in the College of Education comprise the largest group of Native faculty in any UNM program or department.
In 2017, the work expanded to collaborate with other faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Native American Studies (NAS) as a planning effort to revitalize the institute. This set forth a new and ambitious mission that will address a broad spectrum of pre-K through post-secondary American Indian education issues and support educational outreach to New Mexico American Indian students and communities.
The Institute for American Indian Education consists of Native Faculty in the College of Education and the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Native American Studies. Collectively, IAIE faculty recognize the critical nature of preparing pre-service educators, administrators (K-12 and higher education), non-teaching educational professionals, researchers, and policy makers to work with Native People in the state. We are committed to engage in teaching, service, and scholarship by our shared concern for the quality of education that AI students and Native People receive. Working as one body and individually with and for Native People in NM is at the center of our identities as faculty.
Community engagement with Native Nations in NM is at the core of teaching, service, and scholarship for COE and NAS Native faculty. Cultivating authentic relationships with Native Nations is critical for sustaining a culture of responsiveness and reciprocity. Both IAIE faculty and staff have a proven record of service that spans a significant part of our lives as Native People. We recognize the importance of respect for the integrity of leadership, cultural sovereignty, and community relations. Many of us live and work to maintain a strong connection to our home communities not only through the services that we can provide as educational professionals, more importantly, as active participants in sustaining culture, language, and self-determination. These organic relationships with Native Nations are essential to intersecting networks of service that has enabled us to do our work.
The institute was a funded project by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation from 2017 to 2019.