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Tribal Council selects ASU project for use in schools

February 13, 2009

The Pascua Yaqui Tribal Council recently chose an early education pilot project developed by Arizona State University's School of Social Work for use in elementary schools on tribal lands in Pima County and for tribal members living in the Phoenix-area community of Guadalupe.

The Urban American Indian Early Education Pilot Project works with Native American children ages 3-4 and their families to provide a high-quality, early-learning program with a culturally appropriate curriculum developed by the Indigenous Early Intervention Alliance (IEIA). It is designed to enhance school-readiness skills, promote school achievement in later years, and to support family involvement in children's education.

"This is an example of building a relationship between ASU and nearby Native American tribes," says Social Work Asst. Prof. Mike Niles in the school's Office of American Indian Projects, which founded the IEIA to promote effective early education in Native American and other indigenous populations worldwide.

The community-based intervention project also provides ASU with data that helps identify how early education programs can adjust to address cultural issues, and how curriculum for indigenous populations can include culturally appropriate material. For example, this version of the project includes a program in which tribal elders will teach families of the Pascua Yaqui tribe their native language.

This partnership will use language-teaching labs in the Tucson area that already were set up and funded through the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, and will accommodate participants in the Early Education pilot project at no extra charge.

Seed funding from the Alcoa Foundation for this project is now in its second year, with a recent $45,000 grant.

ASU's Office of American Indian Projects works to identify, recruit and support students who are interested in working with American Indian communities. It also assists tribal governments in developing policies that affect their people. The Office is located in the School of Social Work, part of the College of Public Programs at the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus.

For information about the Office of American Indian Projects, call 602-496-0099 or visit The Indigenous Early Intervention Alliance Web site is