The nation’s leading advocacy group for Native American students, a significantly rural population, has named a new leader, Ahniwake Rose.
Rose joined the National Indian Education Association in early September, and she’ll be leading the group in its efforts to support American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian students nationwide.
Rose previously spent five years as policy director with the National Congress of American Indians, and she’s succeeding Gerald Gipp, who has been the group’s interim leader since June.
Rose has experience in education policy making and legislation. She has championed policies that would give tribes choice and control over education and other social service activities necessary to improving their communities and preserving their cultures.
Rose is a member of the Cherokee Nation and serves on the Equity and Excellence Commission on addressing achievement gaps convened by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
We asked Rose to do a short e-mail Q&A with us, and here’s what she had to say:
How have you spent your first month on the job, and what’s your plan for the upcoming year?
Most of this first month has been spent overseeing the final touches for NIEA 2012, our 43rd annual convention, and getting in touch with the stakeholders in our Native communities. We have also been busy meeting with congressional leaders to inform them about the importance of preserving all funding Native student education—including Title VII and Impact Aid funding—and passing legislation that will improve education for our American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian students.
What’s something you think the NIEA traditionally has done well, and what’s an area you’d like to do better?
NIEA has been successful in advocacy. Last year, we advocated for President Obama to sign Executive Order 13592, the administration’s new initiative to improve American Indian and Alaska Native education. This was a critical success for our tribes and communities, who have been historically poorly-served by the federal government. What NIEA must do better is helping Native communities develop the kinds of programs that can both immerse our students in their language and culture, as well as help them get ready to take on the challenges of an increasingly knowledge-based economy. This means providing technical assistance to tribes and to organizations in Native Hawaiian communities, as well as embracing new tools for directing the education of our Native students such as charter schools and digital technology.
What’s one message about Native American students you hope to communicate with the general public during your tenure?
Native students can achieve great things if we provide them the effective teaching, comprehensive culturally based education, and college- and career-ready curricula they need to be warriors of prosperity for their themselves, families, communities, and tribes. This means both providing Native students with opportunities to take Advanced Placement courses and get language immersion classes. It also means building climates of respect for Native cultures in every classroom. We know how well our children can do when they are educated and respected.
Is there something you want to say, or that you would like folks to know about you?
Being executive director of NIEA isn’t just a job for me. As a member of Cherokee Nation, and as a mother, I am intimately aware of the fact that high-quality education is critical to the survival of my tribe and my family. It is of foremost importance that all Native children get the teaching and learning they need for successful lives.
Photo of Ahniwake Rose courtesy of the National Indian Education Association.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.