Four national American Indian organizations took an historic step last October to join forces for the sake of Indian children. At the National Indian Education Association (NIEA) meeting in Sioux Falls, S.D., a memorandum of agreement was signed by representatives of NIEA, the American Indian Education Consortium (AIHEC), the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), and the National Indian School Board Association (NISBA). The agreement created a formal alliance, the Partnership for the Advancement of Native Education. Melody McCoy of the Native American Rights Fund helped them draft the agreement.
“For 500 years, the American Indian family has been attacked,” said Dr. David Gipp, then president of AIHEC. “We never know what the government will do for us or to us. It is time for us to work together to set the agenda.”
Historically, the organizations have worked together on various matters. However, a disagreement amongst several of the organizations over the interpretation of policy in the national Indian teacher corps led them to formalize their working relationship, according to Gipp. At the signing ceremony, representatives of the organizations said the agreement would help them advocate for and promote the advancement of education for American Indians and Alaska Natives.