Affirming identity: The role of language and culture in American Indian education

Jon Reyhner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


With the passage of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001, the United States spent millions upon millions of dollars in a largely unsuccessful effort to close the academic achievement gap between American-Indian and some other ethnic minorities and mainstream Americans. NCLB’s focus on teacher quality and evidence-based curriculum and instruction and subsequent reform efforts have largely ignored the negative effects of American popular culture and assimilationist, English-only educational efforts on Indigenous children, which can attack their identity and lead to cultural disintegration rather than assimilation into the dominant culture. This article examines recent American Indian and Hawaiian efforts at language and culture revitalization in schools and how those efforts have helped students to develop a strong sense of identity and show more academic success. These recent efforts focus on human rights and are in line with the United Nations 2007 Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1340081
JournalCogent Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • culture
  • history
  • identity
  • language immersion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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