While statistics tend to focus on the difficulties facing tribal education, this article endeavors to look at the matter with fresh eyes. The federal administrative paradigm governing tribal schools has gone from a tool of cultural genocide to a mechanism for empowerment. A survey of recent governmental reforms demonstrates an embrace of the diversity of Indigenous communities, an interest in empowering students through learning, and an acknowledgement of a history of active disenfranchisement. This is ever-evolving federal-tribal relationship shows the administrative state’s capacity for dealing with greatly nuanced community needs and for tailor-making reforms to achieve concrete goals, even if those goals remain to be seen. Based off paradigms of tribal education administration, this article proposes adoption of these governance mechanism into the administration of American public schools, focusing especially on cultivating a community-empowering model that more effectively embraces the textured, diverse needs of students in different living contexts. Centrally, this article calls for us to see our current American public education governance model as disenfranchising rather than empowering and to push for change.



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