May 25, 2004
New Mexico Public Education Department
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Ruth Williams
Public Outreach Director
(505) 476-0393

Meeting to be Held in Albuquerque on Native American Language and Culture Certification

(Santa Fe, NM)--Tribal leaders and departments of education, language teams and parents will meet in Albuquerque on Wednesday, June 30 to discuss the development of local tribal standards, criteria and competencies for certifying tribal members in Native American Language and Culture in grades K-12. The meeting will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the TVI Workforce Training Center, located at 5600 Eagle Rock, Avenue, NE. The public is invited.

The meeting will feature Melody McCoy, attorney for the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), in Boulder, Colorado. McCoy will assist with a discussion of Native American issues. The NARF provides legal representation and technical assistance to Indian tribes, organizations and individuals nationwide. Part of its mission is the preservation of tribal existence.

To date, two New Mexico tribes – the Jicarilla Apache Nation and Pueblo of Santa Clara – have signed Memorandums of Agreement (MOAs) with the Public Education Department to establish standards and criteria and determine competency for persons seeking certification in Native American Language and Culture for grades K-12. There are 22 tribes and pueblos in New Mexico.

Certification in Native language and culture is seen as critical to keeping Native American students in school and increasing their academic performance. It is also considered instrumental in the retention of Native language.

House Bill 204 of 2003 provided for limited licenses for teachers of Native American language and culture. The New Mexico State Board of Education adopted a rule in August 2003 providing for certification in Native language and culture.