American Indian Communities in Minnesota - K-12 Education

American Indian Communities in Minnesota
K-12 Education

How many American Indian students are there in Minnesota and where do they attend school?

About 16,200 American Indian students attend public schools in Minnesota. An additional 2,000 American Indian students attend tribal contract schools in the state and about 400 American Indian students are in alternative programs.

Four tribal contract schools operate in the state, along with three American Indian magnet programs and one American Indian charter school. Three public school districts are entirely composed of American Indian students, and two other school districts have American Indian students as a majority of their enrollment.


Tribal Contract Schools

Circle of Life


Fond du Lac Ojibwe

Nay Ah Shing

White Earth Reservation

Leech Lake Reservation

Fond du Lac Reservation

Mille Lacs Reservation

Public School Districts with 100% American Indian Enrollment

Pine Point(48)

Red Lake

Nett Lake

White Earth Reservation

Red Lake Reservation

Near Nett Lake Reservation

Public School Districts with Majority American Indian Enrollment



White Earth Reservation

White Earth Reservation

Magnet Programs

Four Winds Magnet

Mounds Park All Nations Magnet

Nettleton Elementary Magnet


St. Paul


Charter School

Dakota Open School(49)

Renville County

What special programs are offered by the state for American Indian students?

The Minnesota American Indian Education Act of 1988 requires that the state of Minnesota provide unique services to meet the needs of American Indian people within the state.(50) The act also recognizes the need for American Indian teachers in the state. The legislature appropriates money for a variety of programs to benefit American Indian students and to assist more American Indian people to become teachers. The legislature appropriated about $7.4 million for the 1997-1999 biennium for American Indian Education programs. The programs include:

American Indian Language and Culture Education - A competitive grant program offered to schools to provide services to promote positive self-image and reinforcement for American Indian students.(51)

Support for American Indian Education - Funding for American Indian education programs for 6 school districts that have high concentrations of American Indian students.(52)

American Indian Post-Secondary Preparation - A competitive grant program for students in grades 7-12 who are at least one-fourth American Indian. The program offers career counseling and assistance in applying for post-secondary admission.(53)

American Indian Scholarships - Scholarships for full- and part-time college students in undergraduate and graduate education.(54)

Indian Teacher Preparation Grants - Grants to be made jointly to a school district and a post-secondary institution to assist American Indian people in becoming teachers.(55)

Parent Advisory Committees - Committees are established in school districts where 10 or more American Indian children are enrolled. There is no state appropriation for these committees.(56)

Indian Adult Basic Education Program - This is a program that provides American Indian adults with basic education instruction in order to meet GED requirements.

How are the needs of American Indian students different from those of other children in the state?

The drop out rate for American Indian students is the highest in the state for any minority group. Approximately 60 percent of American Indian students drop out of school before reaching high school graduation.(57)

Both federal and state laws have mandated that American Indian children must receive education that acknowledges the heritage and culture of the American Indian people. This requires some special programs and some additional funding from state and federal governments.

What are the sources of funding for teaching American Indian children?

Since 1924, Minnesota has assumed the responsibility for educating American Indian children residing in the state, on or off the American Indian reservations. In addition to the state programs listed above, school districts are eligible for federal money to educate American Indian children. The federal Indian Education Act of 1988 calls for grants to be made to school districts to develop programs for American Indian students.(58) Title 9 grants were made to 64 Minnesota school districts in 1997. Most American Indian students are also eligible for federal Title 1 funding which is a program for children from low-income families.

American Indian-controlled tribal contract or grant schools are eligible to receive tribal contract school aid and early childhood family education (ECFE) aid from the state.(59) The state determines an amount of revenue on a per pupil basis that the tribal schools shall receive and funds only the amount not covered by federal Bureau of Indian Affairs education aid. Minnesota appropriated about $5.2 million for tribal contract school aid and ECFE for the 1997-1999 biennium.

Although no official statistics are kept by the state, individual tribal governments have played a role in contributing resources to school districts and tribal contract schools in helping to construct school facilities and educate American Indian students.

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