Gila River Indian Community: Education Code

The Tribal Education Department (TED), along with multiple Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) government departments, Community Schools, Council Members, Community Members, and other education advocates/stakeholders have been undertaking a massive multi-year effort to create and codify the Community’s first Education Code—a move intended to foster the development of a unified school system-complete with a shared mission and vision for education—, to express tribal sovereignty and self-determination, and set a roadmap for the success of students and the Community as a whole.

In recent years, grants from the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), specifically the Sovereignty in Education (SIE) (2016) and Tribal Education Department (TED) (2019) grants, have helped fund work to inform, guide, and empower TED, with cooperation and collaboration from Community schools and education stakeholders, to continue its pursuit of this systemic change. The Education Code presents the Community a unique opportunity to allow, without outside influences, Akimel O’otham and Pee Posh youth to experience curriculum and education designed and meant for them.

Analyzing activities designed to gather data regarding Community schools and priorities for education, including

  • A public forum regarding the BIE Strategic Direction (2019)
  • Annual Governor’s Education Summits (2017-present)
  • Education Standing Committee Work Session(2017)

has led the TED to focus on: (1) Finalizing work on the Education Code; (2) Positioning the TED to take over administrative support functions from the BIE for the three tribally-controlled schools (Blackwater, Casa Blanca, and Gila Crossing), and; (3) Outlining the TED plan to coordinate services for all educational programs in the Community Pre-K-12.

Gila River Indian Community’s Education Code will serve to establish TED’s role as a guide, in implementing an overarching policy that focuses all of TED’s educational efforts with the expected purpose of providing: (1) A Community-wide philosophy on tribal curriculum objectives and alignment with state standards; (2) Support for the educational programs and resources that nourish and assist the Community’s leaders of tomorrow, and; (3) Provide the tools and resources necessary to make education within the Community a positive, productive experience offering Community members superior preparation for life.

The Education Code will include curriculum, education standards, educational policies, and programs to assist students to assume their responsibility to perpetuate the Community. GRIC intends to utilize the Education Code and focus TED education efforts to achieve the ultimate goal of self-determination consistent with its heritage.

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