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Indian Control of Indian Education: Over a Decade Later Kirkness, Verna J. 1984-07-27

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Indian Control of Indian Educati.on: Over a Decade Later  Presented to th.e Fi rst Annual Conference of the MOKAKIT INDIAN EDUCATION RESEARCH ASSOCIATION University of Western Ontario July 27, 1984  Verna J. Kirkness Assistant Professor Faculty of Education University of British Columbia Vancouver, B.C.  Indian Control of Indian Education:  Over a Decade Later  In February, 1973, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development gave official recognition to the policy statement of the National Indian Brotherhood entitled uIndian Control of Indian Education".  He approved its proposals and committed his Department  to implementing them. This national policy is based on statements of provincial/terri­ torial Indian organizations encompassing all areas of concern in Indian education.  It had its origin in the concern of parents for the academic  failure experienced by their children in federal and provincial schools over the past many years. The policy is based on two education principles recognized in Canadian society:  parental responsibility and local control.  It  recognizes that Indian parents must enjoy the same fundamental decision­ making rights about their children's education as other parents across Canada.  It promotes the fundamental concept of local control which  distinquishes the free l!9]itical ~em of democratic  gov~rnrnents  those of a totalitarian nature.  * National Indian Brotherhood is now more commonly known as the Assembly of First Nations. of Canada.  It represents the status Indians  from  ~  - 2 ­  The policy was prompted by the need to improve the guality of The need for an education relevant to the philo­  Indian education.  sophy of Indian people was recognized as being essential. "We want education to give our children a strong sense of identity, with confidence in their personal worth and ability" (ICIE p. 3) The purpose of this paper is to review and to analyze the issues and concerns which continue to surround the policy of IIIndian Control of Indian Education  ll  •  Action necessary for the full realization of the  po1i cy wi thi n the next decade will be suggested. Certain reports suggest that significant progress has been made toward the implementation of the policy.  The Indian Education Policy  Review Phase I prepared by the Department of Indian Affairs cites the following as indicators of progress (p. 10). As of 1980: - three Indian or Inuit school boards have been created under provi nci all aw: the­ Ni sghaL_9f_.._ _ - - - - - -..  B.C., and the Cree and Kativik School Boards of Northern Quebec; - 450 of the 573 bands are administering all or parts of th.eir program; - there are 137 band-operated on-reserve schools. The Canadian Education Association Report on "Recent Developments in Native Education" (1984)  cite!i~the  related to Band operated Schools.  following  positiv~ responsE!!i_~_  These include:  -"Band schools produce a pride i.n Native heritage" (p. 81)  - 3 ­  -"Children are free to speak their Native language and are learning that to be a Micmac ;s something to be proud of. II (Mi'Kmawey School, p. 81) _IIOver 40 grade 12 graduates are projected in 1985-86 compared to two in 1977."  (Peguis School, p. 81)  -"Attendance in the school is steadily climbing from 82%  to 91% since the band took control of the school."(Bai-Bom-Beh School, p. 82 This CEA Report also cites problems associated with Indian Control of Indian Education.  These include:  -"The lack of a systematic framework for transferring control to Indian Bands has been the major obstacle to the success of band schools."(p. 77) - "DIAND' s refusal to construct on-reserve school fac il iti es in those places where Joint School Agreements exist."(p. 78) - "One of the problems with 1oca1 cont ro1 has been the high degree of politicization found in band education councils."  (p. 79-80)  - "Cha 11 enges faced were low fundi ng, poor faci 1ities, not enough Native teachers, no direction from federal government!'  (The Southeast Tribal Diyision for School Inc., p. 8) In May 1981, a resolution was passed by the Assembly of Chiefs (First Nations) indicating National concern regarding the implementation of Indian Control of Indian Education.  The resolution reads:  - 4 ­  WHEREAS Indian Control of Indian Education has been endorsed and accepted by both the Indian people and the Department of Indian Affairs; and WHEREAS the Department of Indian Affairs has promised to actively support the full implementation of Indian Control of Indian Education policy paper of 1973; and WHEREAS the Department of Indian Affairs has failed to actively support the full implementation of Indian Control of Indian Education as seen by recent moves to cut back on several programs in education; and, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT this Assembly of Chiefs reaffirm the policy and direction as stated in the 1973 Indian Control of Indian Education paper; and, FURTHER THAT WE DEMAND THAT the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development reinstate, maintain and expand the programs which are required to fulfill Band Educational Training and support need; and, WE FURTHER DEMAND THAT the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development actively engage in the implementation of the 1973 Indian Control of Indian Education policy; and, WE FURTHER DEMAND THAT the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development make available appropriate financial resources to ensure the full implementation of the highest quality of Indian Control of Indian Education (policy). Two major problem areas can be identified.  One, the definition  of control and secondly, the absente of a tlear implementation plan. The contrast in perception of control and implementation by the Indian people and by the Department of Indian Affairs has impeded the progress of the po1i cy.  ~~-  .........- - - .  ---~~--  .......  ~-~---  ... --..  ---.~-  - 5 ­  To the Indian people, the concept of control is clearly articulated in the policy.  It recognizes that the Federal government has the legal  responsibility for Indian education as defined by the treaties and the Indian Act (ICIE p. 5).  It further maintains that the Federal Government  has the financial responsibility to provide education of all types and at all levels to status Indian people whether living on or off reserves OCIE p. 3).  It  affirms that control/jurisdiction_Jor Indian  educatt~  can only derive from the Federal Government to Indian Bands (ICIE p. 5). In every case wherein directions/decisions are to be made which affect the education of Indian people, the policy states that parental responsi­ bility must be respected and local Indian Bands must maintain the right to review and approve the condi.tions of any agreements (ICIE p. 6). Control means that the Federal government must transfer to local Bands the authority for the funds which are allotted for Indian education (ICIE p. 6) Band  Councils~  i.n turn, designate Education Authorities  with set terms of reference to implement local control of education. Control means that Indian people either directly or through their respective Bands and organizations will participate fully in the design and implementation of the education of their members. This concept of control is a drastic departure from tradition for the Federal Government who over the years through designated departments (now Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development) responsible for administration of Indian Affairs, have maintained a paternalistic attitude toward the Indians of Canada.  - 6 ­  From the early 17th Century, Indian people of Canada were exposed to education designed and directed by missionaries and federal and provincial civil servants. and Christianize  The missionary approach was to "civilize  This gave way in later years to the governments'  ll •  approach of assimilation under the aegis of integration.  These hundreds  of years have been a dismal failure in terms of educating the masses of Indian people. In the 1960's, Indian leaders strongly articulated their concerns for the deplorable conditions of their people.  In response to the educational  concerns being raised by Indian people, the Standing Committee on Indian Affairs within the government prepared a report on Indian education.  This  report, presented in the House of Commons on June 22, 1971, unfolded before the Canadian public the educational problems facing Indian people. Some of the findings were: 11­  A drop-out rate four times the national average (96% of Indian children never finished high school);  - A related unemployment rate averaging 50% for adult males, going as high as 90% in some communities; - "Inaccuracies and omissions relating to the Indian contribution to Canadian history in texts used in federal and provincial schools; Jl  - An age-grade retardation rooted in language conflict and early disadvantage, which accelerated as the child progressed through the primary and elementary grades; - Less than 15% of the teachers had specialized training in cross-cultural education and less than 10% had any knowledge of Indian language; - The majority of Indian parents were uninformed about the implication of decisions made to transfer children from reserve schools to provincial schools.1I  - 7 ­  From this report, it was obvious that the missionaries and federal and provincial  civil servants had failed to administer an effective  educational program for Indians. _~Y~ral~ilctors~name~  This failure has been attributed to  the absence of a clear philosophy of education  with goals and objectives, failure to provide a meaningful program based on Indian reality, a lack of qualified teaching staff and inadequate facilities, and most important, the absence of parental involvement in the education of their children. The policy of Indian Control of Indian Education was designed to redress this whole issue.  It was obvious that survival as nations of  Indian people was dependent on taking control of the institutions which impact on Indian lives.  Education was a priority.  Control within the pol icy incl uded Indian  authorit.Y~~tcest_abli sh_in=Q__  priorities, preparing budgets, hiring staff, and developing curriculum. The difference in perception of control by D.I.A. was evident soon after the policy was established.  The Indian Education Service of the National  Indian Brotherhood in its effort to assist in the implementation of the policy documented specific problems associated with control. It can best be summed up by the fact that Indian people were/are permitted involvement but not control; Indian people were required to prove to D.I.A. their ability to administer education and were encouraged to begin by taking over specific program areas such as maintenance and transportation.  This process of direct transfer of specific areas  brought with it specific policies, procedures and budgets. The result  - 8 ­  of this process is that Indians are now operating Department of Indian Affairs programs.  This was not the intent of the policy.  This approach  does not respond to the need for parents to be involved in goal setting. What Indian people referred to as Indian Controlled Schools soon became known by the Department of Indian Affairs as Band-operated schools. This is significant in that controlling and operating are two entirely different concepts.  To control is to have power over, to exercise directing  . influence, whereas to operate means to manage, to or keep in operation. It is predictable that the difference is perception would lead to misunderstanding and impede the direction of the Indian Control of Indian Education policy.  It is difficult to determine whether the Department's  direction stems from a colonial mentality, from practical problems associated with the transfer of jurisdiction to Indian Bands or both. A review of the implementation of the policy suggests three specific problem areas; namely, dual administration, funding and legislation. Dual administration refers to the fact that Indian Bands find themselves operating certain programs under supervision of the Depart­ ment of Indian Affairs.  The earlier discussion of control versus  operating offers an explanation for this.  It should be made clear,  however, that the intent of the policy was not that Indian responsibility for education would mean becoming yet another extension to the bureaucracy.  - 9 ­  The intent was not that there would be dual administration by Indians and the Department of Indian Affairs.  Rather, through direct control  it was to replace the complex bureaucracy already existing to administer Indian education. In terms of funding, the policy states that liThe Federal Govern­ ment must take the required steps to transfer to local Bands the authority and the funds which are allotted for Indian education {ICIE p. 6}. The ll  Department provides funding through Contributions to Bands.  Funds for  all programs must be within the limits of departmental budgets which means that funding is allocated specifically for certain areas i.e. administration, school programs, with each category even further speci­ This limits the possibility of priority setting or innovative  fied.  planning by local Indian Bands. A further restraint is that Indian controlled schools require an administration which is local. centralized administrations.  The Department of Indian Affairs has The cost factor is different.  present scheme, this poses additional problems for Bands.  Under the Not only is  funding restricted to certain activities, it is also inadequate. Treasury Board expects that the transfer to local control and adminis­ tration of education programs by Bands should not entail any additional costs. The most serious problem, however, arises out of the lack of legislation.  The Indian Act provides no direct legal basis for the  ----------------------------------~~~~~~-~~~~--  - 10 ­  transfer of education from the control of the Minister to Indian Bands.  It authorizes the Minister to enter into agreements with  provincial/territorial governments, public or separate school boards, religious or charitable organizations but not to Indian Bands.  The  present authority allowing Indian Bands to administer education funds derives from various Treasury Boards' autho"Uies, covering a range of educational and student support services which extend from pre­ kindergarten to post-school programs. A review of these problems indicates that they are all directly related.  If we examine the authority used to accommodate the policy of  Indian Control of Indian Education, it reveals that certain restrictions; namely, the lack of enabling legislation authorizing the Minister to transfer control of education to Indian Bands, prevent the implementation to occur as it should.  It relates directly to the problem of funding  as well as the problem of dual administration.  In fact, it explains the  difference in perception of, or accommodation to, the concept of control. Clearly, the basic fundamental impediment to Indian Control of Indian Education is the lack of enabling legislation.  Without it, we  can expect only minor adjustments to the existing situation.  With it,  an Indian Band(s), Organization(s) would be able to write its own Education Act, determine its own administrative unit, policies, aims and objectives. Since the inception of the policy of Indian Control of Indian Education, efforts have been made by individuals, Bands, Tribal Councils,  -------------------------------~  - _ ....._ - - - _..._ _ .._.  - 11 ­  Indian organizations, D.I.A., to monitor developments related to the policy and to identify implementation mechanisms which would facilitate the development of quality education.  These are documented in a number  of studies, several of which are: - Education Funding - Education Quality by Sagkeeng Education Authority, February, 1984 -  Indian Education Policy Review - Phase I D. LA. - December, 1981  - Our Tomorrows - Today: Different Paths to Quality Indian Education in Manitoba by Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, 1984 - Okanagan/Nicola Indian Quality of Education Study by A.J. More, May, 1984 - National Indian Brotherhood Reports 1974 - 1976 The Assembly of First Nations (N.I.B.) continues to recognize the need for a comprehensive review of all aspects of Indian education, the need for implementation policies and enabling legislation. To this end, the Assembly of First Nations has negotiated an agreement with the Department of Indian Affairs which will enable the A.F.N. to address the problems associated with the policy of Indian Control of Indian Education. The National Indian Education Review is expected to be completed prior to the 1987 First Ministers/First Nations Constitutional Meeting. direction is important.  This  We must first document the existing state of  Indian education; we must identify policies required to accommodate the policy and we must identify legislation which will enable the shift of control to occur.  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ... - - - - -...- -..- -..- - - - ....  ~  - 12 ­ A national effort must be launched if we are to reaJize fully the policy of IIIndian Control of Indian Education!! within the next decade.  It is imperative that appropriate legislation be passed by  the Government.  With the legislation issue at rest, great strides  can be made toward quality education by Indian people.  ******************************  REFERENCES "Recent Developments in Native Education Canadian Education Association 252 Bloor Street W., Ste. 8-200 Toronto, Ontario M5S lV5 ($6.00) ll  ,  IIIndian Control of Indian Education" Assembly of First Nations (N.I.B.) 222 Queen Street, Ste. 500 Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5V9 "Indian Education Policy Review - Phase I", Department of Indian Affairs 10 Wellington Street Hull, Quebec  


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