Legal Foundation

Tribal Compacting in Education

This section includes analyses that speak to the legal foundation of state tribal compacts for the operation of public schools in Alaska and examples that support consideration and incorporation of  indigenous  knowledge into federal law and policy. Many discuss co-stewardship and best practices.

White Papers

AFN White Paper on Indian Self Determination

AFN White Paper on Compacting

AFN White Paper on Tribal Compacting v. Charter Schoolsh

AFN White Paper on the Stevens Rider Effect on Funding for Alaska Schools

AFN White Paper on TERO and State-Tribal Education Compacting

Executive Orders

Executive Order 14049 - Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Native Americans and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities (Oct. 11, 2021)

On October 11, 2021, President Biden issued E.O. 14049 outlining his Administration’s policy for furthering the education of Native American and Alaska Native students. President Biden made the following commitments to support culturally focused education as part of his Native education policy:

“It is the policy of my Administration to advance equity, excellence, and justice in our Nation’s education system and to further Tribal self-governance, including by supporting activities that expand educational opportunities and improve educational outcomes for all Native American students. My Administration will help expand opportunities for Native American students to learn their Native languages, histories, and cultural practices; promote indigenous learning through the use of traditional ecological knowledge; and enhance access to complete and competitive educations that prepare Native American students for college, careers, and productive and satisfying lives.”

Executive Order 13175 – Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments (Nov. 6, 2000)

On November 9, 2000, President Clinton issued E.O. 13175 requiring federal departments and agencies to consult with Tribal governments when considering policies that would impacts Tribal communities. The standards of behavior for federal departments and agencies include affording Tribal governments maximum discretion in implementing federal policies, defaulting to tribal authority, and engaging in regular and meaningful consultation with Tribal leadership.

Agency Policies and Guidance

White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Native Americans and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities

Additional Information: Link

Summary: Created by E.O. 14049, the Initiative is chaired by the Secretary of Education, Secretary of the Interior, and Secretary of Labor. The Department of Education provides funding and administrative support. The Initiative has the following policy goals, among others: “ensuring that the unique indigenous, cultural, educational, traditional ecological knowledge, and Native language needs of Native American students are met.”

Youth Indian Service Corps 

Additional Information: Link

Summary: In June 2022, DOI launched the Indian Youth Service Corps, a new partnership-based program that will provide meaningful education, employment, and training opportunities to Indigenous youth through conservation projects on public and Indian lands, putting young people on a path to good-paying jobs while working to tackle the climate crisis. Tribes and partner organizations have the opportunity to enter into agreements with the Department of the Interior, Department of Agriculture, or Department of Commerce to establish conservation crews to carry out conservation programs on eligible service lands. The Indian Youth Service Corps resides within the Public Land Corps.

Under the guidelines, “Tribes” are defined as: “An Indian Tribe, band, nation, or other organized group or community, including any Native village, Regional Corporation, or Village Corporation, as defined in subsection (c)(g) or (j), respectively of section 3 of the Alaska Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. 1602 (c), (g) or (j)), that is recognized as eligible for the special programs and services provided by the United States under Federal law to Indians because of their status as Indians”

10-Year National Plan on Native Language Revitalization

Additional Information: Link

Summary: The 10 Year National Plan on Native Language Revitalization’s framework is built upon the following four pillars: 1. Awareness: Create national awareness of the importance of Native languages to tribes and the country, the current crises of Native language loss, and the urgency for immediate action. 2. Recognition: Formal policy recognition of the role the U.S. government played in erasing Native languages, the state of crises, and the need for federal resources and support for Native language revitalization. 3. Integration: Integrate Native language revitalization in mainstream society, including U.S. federal policies and outline the need for the creation of Native language revitalization ecosystems. 4. Support: Identify funding, including federal and philanthropic, for Native language revitalization.

As part of the 10 Year National Plan on Native Language Revitalization, the Department of Education launched, a national, comprehensive study of Native American education in both public and BIE settings in 2023. The national study will examine the educational landscape from birth through lifelong learning and provide baseline data from which the National Plan on Native Language Revitalization will derive measurable outcomes.

The Department of Education will also launch the National Native Language Resource Center and conduct Tribal consultation and targeted listening sessions with Tribal Nations and language communities, beginning in early 2023, to ensure its meaningful design. The center will serve as a comprehensive online resource to support American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian schools, language programs, and individuals engaged in the reclamation, revitalization, preservation, and instruction of American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian languages.

Native Languages MOA

Additional Information: Link

Summary: Twenty-three federal agencies under the Biden Administration signed a Native Languages MOA to promote collaboration on programming, resource development, and policy related to Native languages. Under the Native American Languages Act, each party to the MOA has express legislative authority to provide funding or technical assistance and/or to conduct research in the area of Native language preservation, maintenance, or instruction, including through the arts, humanities, museums, and libraries.


OIRA Broadening Public Participation and Community Engagement in the Regulatory Process (July 19, 2023)

Additional Information: Link

Summary: In response to E.O. 14094, The OIRA issued a memo providing guidance to help agencies broaden public participation and community engagement across the regulatory process. The OIRA emphasizes prioritizing early engagement with communities.

White House OSTP and CEQ Guidance for Federal Departments and Agencies on Indigenous Knowledge(Nov. 30, 2022)

Additional Information: Link 

Summary: This guidance intends to promote and enable a government-wide effort to improve recognition and inclusion of Indigenous Knowledge (IK). Suggested practices for implementation include acknowledging historical context and past injustice; practicing early and sustained engagement; earning and maintaining trust; respecting different processes and world views; recognizing challenges; considering co-management and co-stewardship structures; and pursuing co-production of knowledge.

In applying IK, the guidance identifies the following promising practices: (1) identifying project areas and relevant staff; (2) planning ahead and considering developing an IK plan; (3) conducting initial meetings; (4) including IK in federal decision making and research; and (5) regularly coordinating with other agencies to facilitate information sharing.

Attached Appendices also provide additional information, operational recommendations, and additional resources to support Agencies in implementing this guidance. 

Legal Foundation

From the onset of the project, AFN focused on broad objectives to advance the compacting option and improve education outcomes for Alaska Native children. These included the development of the legal foundation for state-tribal education compacts; consideration of what legal issues might need to be addressed   for implementation of compacting as a mechanism for interested Alaska tribes to operate K-12 schools; and examination of the role of the federal government in trust responsibilities related to the public education of Native children. AFN secured legal assistance from Paul Moorehead, a principal in Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville’s Indian Tribal Government Group and Richard (Rick) Agnew with VNF Solutions. Both attorneys and their firms are familiar with Alaska and its tribal governments and worked on a variety of matters for AFN over the years. Both are well versed in Indian law as well as the complicated business of educating and working with Congress and federal agencies to consider new ideas and opportunities to better existing federal policies and services in Indian country.