fbpx
 

OKLAHOMA CITY —The National Indian Education Association (NIEA) opened its 53rd annual convention and trade show to thousands of registrants at the Oklahoma City Convention Center on Thursday. This year’s theme is “Education Sovereignty. Our Choice.”, and focuses on American Indian educators driving education for Indigenous students.

While the conference officially started on Wednesday, the opening plenary session didn’t convene until Thursday morning. Leaders from national organizations, advocates in the White House, and local leaders addressed the convention with announcements and words of encouragement. 

Never miss Indian Country’s biggest stories and breaking news. Sign up to get our reporting sent straight to your inbox every weekday morning. 

Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt said of NIEA on Thursday, “I know that I stand in the place of many Mayors and Governors and public officials across the country in expressing our gratitude for what you do every day.” Holt is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation and is Oklahoma City’s first Native American mayor. 

National Congress of American Indians’ (NCAI) Executive Director Larry Wright Jr. said at Thursday’s opening session, “It is our commitment to work, continue advocate and be a partner with NIEA, to be the strongest advocate that we can to defend education sovereignty, and defend sovereignty as a whole.” 

At the conference, NIEA announced it’s developing a “Whole Child Initiative,” aiming to create a framework that incorporates the mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of Indigenous students to address needs such as substance abuse and suicide prevention. 

“The Whole Child Initiative is the next step in our journey to return to our Indigenous knowledge and values for our children and families,” NIEA Executive Director Diana Cournoyer said in a statement. “Through Education Sovereignty and the Whole Child Initiative, we are committed to healing school communities and engaging the hearts, souls, and spirits of students in ways that are both practical and sustainable as we move into a new era of Indigenous education.” 

Educators want to address trauma and the needs of children in schools through four pathways: prevention, support, building resiliency, and developing protective factors. 

“Our initiative framework is based on four pathways developed by the Center for Educational Improvement,” Melanie Johnson, Director of the Whole Child Initiative at NIEA, said. “Focusing on prevention, support, building resiliency, and developing protective factors, the Whole Child Initiative reclaims the strengths of Indigenous students and taps into their innate brilliance through the power of Education Sovereignty.”

The convention goes through Saturday and features workshops from professionals throughout the country, youth events, a powwow, an awards banquet, a trade show, and elections on NIEA leadership. 

More Stories Like This

Manitoba Man Charged with Killing 3 More Indigenous Women, House of Commons Rejects State of Emergency Request
SEEN & HEARD at the White House Tribal Nations Summit
Native News Weekly (December 4, 2022): D.C. Briefs
White House Tribal Summit, Day Two: Biden Administration Commits to Tribal Health and Justice Programs
San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Surprises Native Nonprofits with $1M in Donations on #GivingTuesday

Do you appreciate a Native perspective on the news? 

For the past decade-plus, we’ve covered the important Indigenous stories that are often overlooked by other media. From the protests at Standing Rock and the toppling of colonizer statues during the racial equity protests, to the ongoing epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) and the past-due reckoning related to assimilation, cultural genocide and Indian Boarding Schools, we have been there to provide a Native perspective and elevate Native voices.

Our news is free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation this month to help support our efforts. Any contribution — big or small — helps us remain a force for change in Indian Country and continue telling the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked.  Most often, our donors make a one-time gift of $25 or more, while many choose to make a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10.  Whatever you can do, it helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Native news. 

Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you. 

About The Author
Author: Darren ThompsonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Darren Thompson (Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe) is a staff reporter for Native News Online who is based in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Thompson has reported on political unrest, tribal sovereignty, and Indigenous issues for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Indian Country Today, Native News Online, Powwows.com and Unicorn Riot. He has contributed to the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Voice of America on various Indigenous issues in international conversation. He has a bachelor’s degree in Criminology & Law Studies from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.