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Reflections: The Native American Community Academy (NACA) Feast Day and the Importance of Indigenous Education

On Friday October 18, 2019, I woke up early to get my daughter ready for school. For other children who do not attend the same school as her it was just another Friday, but for my daughter it was Feast Day at the Native American Community Academy (NACA). She was so excited she got to wear her traditional Lakota dress with two braids in her hair and her beaded earrings. It was the day she had been waiting for all week. When I arrived, I saw the entire NACA community at work. As a community they worked to prepare food, set up chairs and booths.  When feast day began, I watched as every class walked out with pride to be dressed in their traditional wear. Kara Bobroff, the founder of NACA, stated that NACA was founded to provide Native students with an indigenous education where Native students can keep their traditions, learn their language, and preserve their culture. At one point she asked us something along the lines of “how do we remember our ancestors?” She stated that the NACA core values are a reflection of the answer. There are six core values that are taught at NACA:

  1. Respect
  2. Responsibility
  3. Community/service
  4. Culture
  5. Perseverance
  6. Reflection

I was reminded that day how important indigenous education is and how much of an opportunity my daughter has to attend a school that is taught through a Native American perspective. My daughter’s father expressed that he was happy that his daughter is able to learn Lakota and engage in indigenous traditions because he was not given that opportunity. He was adopted outside of his tribe in violation of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and did not come to know his family until he was about 23 years old. His family are members of the Cheyenne River Sioux in South Dakota. In relation to NACA, I thought about the Tribal Law Journal and its core values which are:

  1. Flux/Change
  2. Organization
  3. Relationships
  4. Respect
  5. Responsibility

The core values are practically the same. This is why Tribal Law Journal and classes like

The Law of Indigenous Peoples is so important. It is imperative for Native students to learn and preserve their culture, language, and traditions, and having Indigenous education available is something that should be implemented in every educational space.

Vanessa Hidalgo is a second-year law student at the University of New Mexico. She hopes to incorporate Critical Race Theory in her career after law school.

By Tribal Law Journal Blog

The Tribal Law Journal was established in fall 1998 for the purpose of promoting indigenous self-determination by facilitating discussion of the internal law of the world’s indigenous nations. The internal law of indigenous nations encompasses traditional law, western law adopted by indigenous nations, and a blend of western and indigenous law. Underscoring this purpose is the recognition that traditional law is a source of law.

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