Rethinking Education on Native American History and Culture

Open Access
Miller, Madison Suzanne
Area of Honors:
Community, Environment, and Development
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Theodore Alter, Thesis Supervisor
  • Theodore Alter, Honors Advisor
  • Native American
  • Diversity
  • Inclusion
  • Education Reform
  • History
  • Culture
The purpose of the study is to highlight insights to direct the curriculum development of education regarding Native American history and culture for high-school students. In a study of U.S. state curriculum requirements, Shear et al. (2015) found that many states do not have any requirements for teaching about Native American history and culture, while those states with requirements often only include superficial rules lacking profound events in American history. Noting the lack of inclusion of Native American history and culture into primary education, this study asks topic experts and students: (1) What should high school students learn about Native American history and culture? (2) How should they learn about it? (3) Why is it important for high school students to study the subject matter? The research methods of this study involve key informant interviews with experts in Native American history and culture, a survey of university students, and key informant interviews with students. Five of the eight Native American history and culture experts identify as Native American, while the remaining three experts have had significant, long-term experiences working with Native American people, and learning and teaching about Native American history and culture. The students were selected from the roster of students who completed a course at Penn State University entitled CED 400: Exploring Indigenous Ways of Knowing. The findings from the study are a compilation of the knowledge and perspectives of the participants and may provide useful insight to curriculum designers, education policy-makers, classroom teachers, university professors of education, and diversity education professionals.