The Native American Academy


What Is the Native American Learning Bundle?

In the Indigenous world a "bundle" is made by the bringing together of spiritual and material objects, elements, allies and energies that will be needed to sustain the spiritual life and secular outcomes of a ceremony or gathering that is being undertaken.

Little is known about Native American learning. It is a mystery and a frontier that has had tragic consequences. In the 500+ year history of the United States, Native Americans have never been allowed to learn within their own languages, cultural traditions and protocols. The western educational system was imposed initially through residential schools in the first of successive
attempts to force cultural assimilation. Since that time Native students confined to learn in a Eurocentric system, which does not reflect their learning processes or worldview, have produced very poor success rates.

The experience can be described as "looking into a mirror and having the mirror look away." Through all the attempts of residential schools, public schools, and tribal schools, few attempts have been made to understand Native American learning. While some work has been done in learning styles since the 1970s, this has not significantly increased the success of Native American students. They still speak of being "split headed", meaning having to learn and integrate two distinct worlds. (G. Cajete)

Learning has always been integral to humanity's quest to understand reality and generate a better life. At the leading edges of the humanly knowable are diverse ways of knowing, weighing, measuring and numbering. Native American learning is one form of understanding the natural world and the artificial paradigms and context of conventional knowledge. Native
American languages and knowledge contain a vast body of wisdom and intimate understandings of interdependence and interrelationships. In the past, educational systems have ignored Native American knowledge and learning. Anthropology and linguistics have attempted to comprehend this knowledge, but only through the framework of English and European knowledge systems rather than from Native American knowledge systems. This lens has contaminated and distorted Native American ways of knowing and learning. Over the last decade university and secondary educational institutions have begun to recognize and value this knowledge.






The inclusion of Indigenous Knowledge within the educational and scientific communities is a fragile and momentous event. Many new collaborations are required, and there is great potential benefit in such collaborations. But for such possibilities to be realized, mainstream perspectives must open themselves to Native knowledge its study and learning processes, just as Native cultures have opened themselves to the study and benefits of mainstream strategies.

The aim of the Native American Academy is to empower a collaborative effort linking Native and non-Native scientists, scholars, educators and traditional knowledge holders in communities and at institutions across the continent to investigate Native American ways of learning and knowing.The role of partnering institutions in the development of a Native American Learning Lodge can nurture the emerging network of native and non-native scholars and transfer or apply the research results from the Center towards further enhancing teaching and learning at all levels and in many contexts.