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Educational Condition

North Dakota ranks as one of the top 20 states with a significant enrollment of Native American student populations in the country with 10, 734 students enrolled in BIA, Tribal, and Public schools in the state. Native American students constitute approximately 8.9% of the total North Dakota enrolled student population. By ethnicity, Native American comprise the second largest group of students in North Dakota.

For many of these students, the dominant culture of the public school is incompatible with their own cultures and languages. There are differences in distinct and various ways of acquiring knowledge, forms of communication, familial structures, and sociological, cultural, and linguistic modes learning of Native learners, that can cause problems for Native American students in the school environment.

Socio-economic issues also complicate the learning environment as well. The consequences of these issues are realized by low achievement scores, high dropout and transfer rates. For example, the 1999 dropout rate for Native American students statewide was 42.2 percent. The economic conditions of many Native communities reveal high incidences of poverty, unemployment, and health problems for Native children and their families. Many native families move to the urban settings for employment and economic reasons.

As a matter of policy and practice, the term Native is used to endorse preference by the indigenous tribal peoples of the state, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, the Dakota and Lakota, the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara (Sahnish) tribal peoples in the use of their tribal names. Therefore, while the term “Indian” is a federal designation, the term Native learner refers to the children of the North Dakota tribal peoples, and to the federal designation of “Indian”.

As defined by federal law, the term “Indian” is an individual who is:

  • A member of an Indian tribe or band, as membership is defined by the tribe or band, including any tribe or band terminated since 1940.
  • Any tribe or and recognized by the state in which the tribe or band resides.
  • Descendant, in the first or second degree
  • Considered by the Secretary of Interior to be an Indian for any purpose.
  • Eskimo, Aleut, or other Alaska Native
  • Member of an organized Indian group that received a grant under the Indian Education Act of 1988 as it was in effect on October 19, 1994.
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North Dakota Department of Public Instruction
Kirsten Baesler, State Superintendent
600 E. Boulevard Avenue, Dept. 201
Bismarck, North Dakota 58505-0440

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