NIEA's support for affirmative action comes from the historical context of education- Natives have a long and destructive history with U.S. education policy. From the boarding school era to schools barring students from wearing eagle feathers at graduation, educational institutions have continuously undercut and stemmed racial and cultural diversity. Underlying these policies has been the belief that students must learn to thrive within a Western school system. These policies, and the continuous undermining of Native cultures and traditions, have impact the academic success of Native students. It is NIEA's hope this ruling, which champions racial diversity, can be used to create welcoming and inclusive school environments for Native students.
NIEA Executive Director Ahniwake Rose said of the ruling, "We are thankful that the Supreme Court has recognized and celebrated the strengths of our students. Their ruling today solidifies what NIEA has continuously voiced- encouraging educators to champion different cultures and traditions provides benefits to both the student and to the community they join. Native students are strong, resilient, and innovative- their voices and their ideas can help propel the Nation forward. We are happy that colleges are able to view the history and race of their students as integral and important to their institution."
NIEA President Patricia Whitefoot also supported the ruling saying "Race is a clear and present reality for our students. They are reminded of it when they step into a classroom or look in a mirror. Our hope is that they can step into classrooms at universities and see many faces that mirror their own. The ruling of the court is one step in the journey to heal the wounds caused by the forced assimilation. Education, which was used as a weapon of war, can now be used to propel students forward."
NIEA will continue to learn more about how this case impacts other institutions.
To learn more about the history of Native education, please