Academic Leadership: The Online Journal


Kristen Emery


A culturally responsive, respectful, and inclusive academic environment is a must for Native American students. Educational institutions must work to accommodate and allow Native American cultural traditions to become an integral part of the classroom, of teaching and learning procedures and processes, and of the student experience in general (Burk, 2007). At the colleges and universities of today, Native American students often face challenges beyond that of students from the dominant, typically White, non-Hispanic culture; these challenges are reflected in low retention and college dropout rates of Native American and Alaskan Native students nationwide (Campbell, 2007). Research has indicated that these students face challenges that can include unsupportive faculty (Jackson, 2002), a feeling of a lack of understanding and a lack of desire to understand Native American culture and the cultures of underrepresented students in general (Hornet, 1989), helplessness in connecting campus experiences to cultural and family experiences, a lack of elder representation and mentors on campus (Perry, 2002; Tierney, 1992), and academic responses that reflect attitudes that are discriminatory, culturally insensitive and/or reflective of institutionalized racism (Jackson, 2002).