The Subtle Evolution Of Native American Education

“ American Indian” and “ Alaska Native” students are not seeing the same success in education. In our countries public K-12 schools the numbers are more racially diverse than ever. Thanks to a growing number of Latino and Asian youth populations, students of color now outnumber their white peers. Formerly one in five students were a minority now half of the children under five. We may need to revisit the word” minorities”.

According to analysis of the U.S. Department of educations demographic data American Indian and Alaska native trends are even more tenuous. The numbers for these indigenous children are so low they can tend to be forgotten. They often attend charter schools or language immersion schools. Many of these schools teach indigenous worldviews which has been challenged by a few federal courts as they emphasize “ Native Ways of knowing”. However these programs are not always the best, often dilapidated and unsafe and plagued with bureaucracy and unstable administration. This leaves Native American students far behind.

Even though the public school population continues to grow the sizes of these subgroups are projected to shrink. Students identified as white or Native American will decline the most. The same is true with high school graduation data. Hispanic and Asian students are slated to increase whereas white, black, American Indian, Alaskan natives are expected to do the opposite. College enrollment is following the trend.

The numbers of Native Americans in public K-12, graduating from high school and going on to an institution are expected to change through 2024. Even amongst the data that shows that Native American families have been seeing higher than average birthrates and the American Indian population is growing twice the rate of the general population we see a discrepancy in the educational system.

Some of these incongruities maybe due to the fact of how our textbooks portray American Indians in our classrooms. Native American parents, one who is white and one who is Navajo may check the white box on paper possibly due to negative stereotypes. Some families may want to distinguish themselves from poor educational outcomes often associated with indigenous populations. It is been reported that the American Indian and Alaska native students have the highest dropout rates in the country. They performed poorly in math and reading and this may explain negative perceptions. They are more likely to be placed in special education classes in the discipline rates are second to black students. One other reason may be a result of school policies which do not teach native students to adapt culturally but possibly suppress tribal identities.

Barack and Michelle Obama are advocating for better support for the American Indian youth and have launched a new initiative called Generation Indigenous. This project will bring more resources to indigenous children and their families. “The issues Native Americans face are a result of a long history of systematic discrimination and abuse”.


Sherman Cemetery

This school was founded by the United States Government to assimilate Native Americans into the mainstream society, upon which hundreds of Native American children were removed from their homes and tribal cultures, sent to these schools to be educated, taught a trade and required to conform to Euro-American society. Because of Bureau policies, students did not return home for several years, many of whom died and were buried in the school cemetery.

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May 3rd marks an old tradition amongst the local tribes where many local reservations decorate their cemeteries with flowers and replace old crosses. Sherman Indian High School designates this as Indian Flower Day

The Perris Indian School


The Perris Indian School was established in 1892. This was the first off reservation Indian Boarding School in the state of California. In 1901 the corner stone was laid for the new school building of Sherman Institute. MORE

Visitor Information

Sherman Museum offers:

  • Guided and Self-Guided Tours
  • School History Lectures
  • Native Plant Garden
  • Hands-on Workshops
  • Native American - Toys and Games
  • Plant Uses
  • Rock Art
  • Music/Instruments
  • Basketry
  • Museum Hours & Location

    Sherman Indian Museum
    9010 Magnolia Avenue
    Riverside, CA 92503 (951)276-6719

    Museum open hours are currently Tuesday - Thursday- 1:00pm - 4:30pm
    all other hours are by appointment. Hours are subject to change due to Sherman Indian High School class schedule changes and field trips. Please call for tours or research appointments

    Museum Collections



    Photo archives from 1892 to present

  • Student registration records 1892-1970s
  • Yearbooks 1920s-1980's
  • Sherman Bulletin Newsletters 1907-1980s
  • School memorabilia, including trophies
  • Basketry
  • Navajo rugs
  • Kachina Dolls
  • Bead work
  • Artwork
  • Pottery
  • Dioramas

    Library includes:


  • News clipping collection
  • Alumni/employee scrapbooks
  • Native American periodicals/newsletters
  • Research material files
  • Bureau of Ethnology Smithsonian Reports
  • Indian Commissioner Reports
  • Native American video collection
    Note: The museum houses the original records and copies on microfilm. There are copies of museum archives on microfilm at the State Library in Sacramento and the Public Library in Fresno.

    Information on American Indian casinos throughout the U.S.

    The Kahnawake Gaming Commission based in the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake is one of the largest online gaming regulators. They regulate many of the popular casinos at

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    Cultural Events & Activities

    Sherman Indian Museum is proud to offer Lectures and Workshops

    Basketry one day workshop: June 17th or 24th, 2015
    - Cost of workshop: $45.00 per student includes material.

    Native Plant Uses of Southern California one day workshop:
    June 20th, 21st or 27th, 2015 Cost of workshop: $75.00 per student includes materials cost.

    Native Toys and Games one day workshop: June 11th, 12th, 16th, 23rd or 30th, 2015

    Indian Boarding Schools; Past and Present: One day class: Dates: June 19th, 22nd or 26th, 2015 Times: 9:00am to 4:00pm Cost per class: $45.00 per person

    The Mother Earth Clan Cultural Presentations: offering cultural programs and presentations on California Indian material culture. Presentations are available to schools, museums, and public/private groups and for teacher/docent training.

    Location: Sherman Indian High School, 9010 Magnolia Avenue, Riverside, CA 92503 (909) 276-6325 ext 309

    Sherman Indian School
    9010 Magnolia Ave
    Riverside, CA 92503

    On going – Talking circle, traditional teachings, Sacred Voices speaker series, Powwow workshops, arts/craft workshops, sweatlodge, community outreach, Inter-tribal dance group performances. Clarke Culture Center, Native Traditions Classroom and Museum are open after school hours for students, check posted flyers for times and activities. Note: Elders Potlucks are held monthly at Bennett hall usually on the 2nd Saturday of the month from 4:00pm – 8:00pm, the Inland Empire Cherokee Nation holds their monthly meeting/potluck there usually on the 3rd Saturday of each month from 12:00pm to 4:00pm. (Students may attend of school staff are present)

    Sherman Indian High School Inter-tribal Dance Groups


    Storytelling and Song


    Lectures and Workshops

    Basketry Workshop
    Native Plant Uses of Southern California
    Native Toys and Games Workshop
    Indian Boarding Schools: Past and Present
    The Mother Earth Clan: Cultural Presentations

    Culture Sharing with Sherman Indian High School Students and Culture Traditions staff.

    The Peoples Paths - Native American resources

    Johnson Shaw Museum - Johnson-Shaw Stereoscopic Museum in Meadville, Pennsylvania

    Mitsitam Cafe - Native American cuisine in Washington D.C.

    Heronswood Garden - gardens in the Pacific Northwest - eco-friendly gardening tips - online museum on antique furniture