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A new vision for the Center for Indian Education

Mission statement

The mission of the Center for Indian Education is to serve as a research and resource center in the field of American Indian/Alaska Native and Indigenous education and related fields at local, state, national, and international levels. The CIE also provides research-related services to Indigenous nations and to the ASU community of students, staff, and faculty.

The world's challenges have shifted dramatically over the last 50 years, but many universities have hardly changed at all. At Arizona State University, we're challenging the very definition of what a university can be. By transcending traditional academic boundaries, fusing new intellectual connections, embracing complexity, and embedding our work in community partnerships, we're radically redesigning higher learning to prepare graduates and our communities to succeed in today's world and to create knowledge that is relevant for our time.

During its 50 years of existence, the Center for Indian Education's mission has been continually revisited and reinterpreted to reflect changing contexts and evolving needs. The Center's co-directors have outlined a revitalized mission for 2010-2015, described below, that continues to emphasize the Center’s long-term commitment to tribal nations of Arizona and to ASU, while expanding our emphasis on world-class research, the preparation of a new generation of Indigenous scholars, and our involvement with a global community of scholars, policy makers, and practitioners in Indigenous education.

As a center chartered by the Arizona Board of Regents, CIE’s responsibilities are to the university as a whole. Its vision is consistent with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ mission to transform learning, discovery, and lives, the School of Social Transformation’s emphasis on creating new knowledge that challenges conventional thinking and transforms the world, and President Michael Crow’s vision of the New American University. CIE’s mission also supports the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College focus on offering world-class academic programs for educators and scholars preparing to enter the teaching profession. 

Specifically the CIE aims to enhance excellence, access, and impact in American Indian/Indigenous education by:

 Providing and supporting quality education that is accessible to a broad population of Indigenous peoples in the State of Arizona and beyond, and that enables student success.

Through teaching, research, and community partnerships, the CIE actively promotes and provides greater avenues of access in education for American Indians/Alaska Natives and has developed specific programs that serve that purpose. 

 Creating a highly educated workforce of Indigenous peoples.

The CIE sponsors programs and services that support increasing education levels among American Indian communities in Arizona. The Center has also facilitated the three major state universities’ focus on assisting Arizona tribes to meet their human resource and other infrastructure needs as their local economies evolve.   

 Fusing intellectual disciplines.

Disciplinary expertise among CIE faculty/administrators and staff spans the fields of education, anthropology, applied linguistics, policy studies, and political science. The CIE also cooperates with a number of interdisciplinary University entities, including the American Indian Policy Institute, American Indian Studies, Teachers College, The Indian Legal Program, and the many units within The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to engage in research, teaching, and outreach geared specifically to improve and transform life opportunities in Native communities.     

 Leveraging our place in the U.S. Southwest while engaging globally.

By developing and conducting Native-focused research, outreach, and professional development programs, the CIE has brought many new Native students to ASU, enriching its diversity. The CIE views the connections between place and sustainability as vital to its work. Sustainability comes in many forms and the CIE is particularly interested in cultural and linguistic aspects of sustainability as they relate to Indigenous communities. To this end, the CIE is engaging with Indigenous communities in Alaska and the Southwest specifically to address the ways in which the community’s location or place influences their involvement with culture and language production, reproduction, and sustainability. 

At the same time, the CIE and its personnel have had an increasing voice in international Indigenous education. In addition to its formal and informal partnerships with tribal nations in Arizona, the Center now has research and professional development partnerships with scholars and practitioners working in institutions of higher education in Latin America, the Khakassian Republic of Russia, New Zealand, Ireland, and Australia.  

 Conducting use-inspired, socially embedded research.

While the mission of the Center for Indian Education is embedded in the larger mission of ASU, it is sufficiently broad and flexible to accommodate the evolving issues and trends in Native education, nationally and internationally. This has been particularly true since the announcement of President Bush’s 2004 Executive Order on American Indian Education (EO 13336), which called for the continued preparation of American Indian/Alaska Native teachers as well as research on the role of language and culture in the learning and social development of Native children. The Center has played a leading role in both the professional development and research aspects of the Executive Order, greatly affecting the emphasis and directionality of the Center’s mission. Dr. David Beaulieu, as former Director of the Office of Indian Education, U.S. Department of Education, and 2004-2005 President of the National Indian Education Association, was instrumental in developing the policies and functions that now guide the national agenda in American Indian Education and in writing the 2004 Executive Order. Current CIE co-directors Bryan Brayboy and Teresa McCarty are members of the U.S. Secretary of Education’s Promising Practices and Partnerships in Indian Education National Working Group, which evolved from the 2004 Executive Order.

 Valuing entrepreneurship in service to Indigenous communities and schools.

The CIE is pursuing social entrepreneurship, seeking external funding to address pressing problems faced by Native communities. In fall 2009, the CIE received a $1.2 million USDE grant to prepare Indigenous early childhood educators. In fall 2010, the Center was awarded a $1.3 million grant to prepare Navajo elementary teachers. The latter project is a direct outgrowth of the Intergovernmental Agreement between ASU and the Navajo Nation. CIE is in the process of partnering with the University of Alaska Fairbanks to pool both internal and external resources to examine the role of sustainability in the education of both states’ Indigenous peoples. To this end, the CIE seeks to use resources to develop local capacity, thereby assisting Native communities in addressing their needs through local stakeholders. This in turn creates dynamic new contexts for research and expands our network of professional development and outreach.