Native Village 
Youth and Education News

September 2013

Native American charter school finds home on Indian School campus
Condensed by Native Village

New Mexico: When a girl from Laguna pueblo left home to attend Albuquerque Indian School in the 1940s, she felt robbed her of her identity.

1885: Students and faculty outside Albuquerque Indian School. AIS provided off-reservation training and education for Indian youth.

In five years the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the school had successfully Americanized me (to) the English language and the ways of white-America as it tried to strip me of my own language, my heritage, my culture and my dress,” she wrote in her journal.

Albuquerque Indian School opened in 1881 and closed in the 1980s. The controversial school was among 60 Indian schools created by the federal government to assimilate Native American youth into  "modern" society. These schools served over 6,000 students. Many youth were forced to attend against their will.

This year, a building on the Albuquerque Indian School campus opened with a new mission -- to serve Native American students as a free charter school.  And it opened with a new name: the Native American Community Academy.

Tiny child handcuffs used to restrain captured Native American children and drag them away from their families to attend Indian boarding schools

Nearly 380 students in grades 6-12 are now attending classes in Building 232, the only AIS structure remaining. School officials say that starting afresh on AIS grounds represents a chance for transformation.

“There’s a horrible history of boarding schools, and Albuquerque Indian School in some parts represents that legacy,” said Duta Flying Earth, associate director of NACA. “We could focus on that legacy, or we can flip it to, ‘What can we do to move forward?’ ”

All Academy students are Native American with ties to 40 - 50 pueblos and tribes. Some students will be shuttled or bused in from around Albuquerque; others will commute from neighboring pueblos.

Among the Native American Community Academy offerings

Students will study American and Global Indigenous policies.
Students will learn Navajo, Lakota and Tiwa languages. 
Resources from the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, which is across the street, will be included in the curriculum.
All students can access the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center's exhibits and archives.
An on-site health facility will offer a dental clinic and pharmacy.
Every two years, high schoolers will visit their sister urban charter school in Hamilton, New Zealand, to form relationships with Maoris.
Eventually NACA will add elementary grades and offer dual enrollment classes with the University of New Mexico and Central New Mexico Community College.

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