Montana Indian Education Association board members meet for the first time
By Lailani Upham
Kipp, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Education Director
delivers the welcoming address to the Montana Indian Education
Association Strategic Planning meeting last week at the KwaTaqNuk
Resort. "Your work you do here today, we know is written with the
hearts and minds of good people, who are greatest resource, and that is
our children," Kipp expressed to the nine member board. (Lailani Upham
POLSON — The first Montana Indian Education Association board of
directors strategic planning meeting was held in Polson at the
KwaTaqNuk Resort last month.
The three-day meeting embraced
elements of: creating a strong board, effective communication using
technology, financial issues and reporting, documents and policy,
defining goals, and methods and implementations.
The assembly launched with input from all the board members
with an introduction to include goals for the association’s mission.
Juneau, MIEA Director, who also facilitated the meeting broke the ice
with sharing his purpose for serving was to see not only a better life
for his children and grandchildren but others as well.
Mitchell, MIEA board member and CSKT tribal member stated that the
opportunity to serve on the board found her. Mitchell’s passion for
Indian education at times keeps her up at night she said. “Every
morning I wake up I want to make a difference for our children’s
Board member Corri Smith stated the group was the “Indian
voice” in education and said they must serve the population at the best
Norma Bixby said she always had an interest in Indian
education. “There is a lot of work to be done and it (MIEA) is
something needed in our school system and in Montana,” she stated.
Juneau, MIEA Director discusses the work sessions ahead on the weekend
agenda for the strategic planning. Topics covered were: creating a
strong board, effective communication using technology, financial
issues and reporting, documents and policy, and defining goals, method
and implementation, following with a wrap-up of: "Where do we go from
here?" (Lailani Upham photo)
Joe Arrow Top, who works and lives in the Heart Butte school
district stated there are areas that require strong advocacy and
believes that MIEA provides a well-run and efficient operation to do
Thomas Brown, from the Poplar School District said he hopes to
gain experience to add to his current position. “We must always learn
no matter how old you are, and pass that information on.”
Augare stated she wanted to gain knowledge as she serves to bring back
useful and effective information to the teachers, school board members
and administration in her district.
Carol Juneau, a long time MIEA board member and former
Democratic Montana State District 8 Senator, said her motto has always
been: “If you want to make change be where the policies are being
made.” She stated that MIEA was in a position to be a strong voice for
Discussions and training on becoming a stronger board member were carried out through surveys and questions at each member.
first session ended with a boat ride and Kootenai Culture Committee
member Vernon Finley telling traditional stories over dinner. Finley’s
focus on the committee is the Kootenai language preservation.
CSKT acting Tribal Education Director Penny Kipp, welcomed the
group and thanked them for continued work accomplished. “Your work is
not only heard here on the Flathead Reservation, it is implemented in
various academic areas in our children’s classrooms daily. It is
because of you and others before you who knew that the success of our
Indian children was contingent on their comfort in their classrooms to
be able to see themselves, their culture and their place they live in
every aspect of the academic areas. Knowing that this information
should not only go to our Indian children, but their peers who also
live here. It brings uniformity to the classroom,” Kipp stated.
The meeting was a first of its kind, according to Mitchell. The
work sessions covered a multitude of topics and discussions that will
build and develop strategies to empower Indian school districts
Kipp included an explanation of the annual CSKT Tribal Pupil
Instruction Related (PIR) day. It is a day hosted once a year by the
CSKT Tribal Education Department and CSKT tribal employees. PIR days
are mandated by the Montana public school system with seven PIR days a
school year. CSKT has been hosting one since 1995.
Kipp explained those PIR days are set-aside for educators to
receive instruction on education or management content to be used in
the classroom. The tribal PIR day focuses on relating to Native
students in the public school system within the Flathead Reservation.
“This day is I’m sure only one example of the Indian Education
For All here in Montana. I’m sure proud of ours and I believe we do a
good job. As in all things it is time to take a look at how this might
evolve. In examining our schools we have over 50 different tribes
represented. I guess it’s time to share the stage and learn about our
sister tribes, to step out and learn about the Gros Ventre, the
Blackfeet, the Crow and the other reservations in Montana. With MIEA’s
resources, the assistance of Office of Public Instruction and others,
that will be come a reality here on the Flathead Reservation.”