Enduring Legacies Native Case Studies

Case Study

Since Time Immemorial: Developing Tribal Sovereignty Curriculum for Washington’s Schools

Author:Barbara Leigh Smith, Shana Brown and Magda Costantino

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This case tells the story of the attempts to implement House Bill 1495 which passed the Washington State Legislature in 2005. This bill recommended inclusion of tribal history, culture, and government in the social studies curriculum in the K-12 education system. This bill was intended to address perceived widespread misunderstanding of American Indians’ heritage, history, and contributions to society. The bill passed but did not include any funding for implementation. This case discusses the efforts to secure funding for curriculum and staff development and the approaches that were used to develop a tribal sovereignty curriculum. The tribal sovereignty curriculum project occurred as a reform effort within larger reform efforts as the State attempted to improve the K-12 education system and comply with rising federal standards and expectations. The case raises a myriad of larger questions about making change as well as questions about educational innovation, policy implementation and educational equity. This case can be taught as an interrupted case with discussion at the end of each section or as a single case with discussion at the end of the case.

Updated: March 23, 2010