Education Issues Weigh on Tribal Voters in South Dakota, Montana

Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are courting the Native vote and their pitches both revolve around improving the educational systems in Indian country. Obama stopped at the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana to make his case. Former president Bill Clinton campaigned for his wife on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota while Sen. Clinton made a stop on the Flathead reservation near Glacier National Park.

While crisscrossing these reservations, both candidates have focused their tribal platforms on the improvement of educational resources. Clinton has pledged to repeal the hotly-debated No Child Left Behind Act and Obama has pledged to invest more money into Indian education and reform NCLB.

But for many within the Indian community, their concerns reach beyond these top-line policy goals, focusing instead on how standardized tests and uniform curriculum could undercut traditional teachings and native language learning. Despite repeated attempts to contact both campaigns, no calls or e-mails were returned to clarify the candidates’ stands on the complex issue, and experts say the problem is much more intricate then simply reforming or repealing the No Child Left Behind Act.

Read more here on PBS Newshour


Tristan Ahtone

Tristan Ahtone is a member of the Kiowa Tribe and serves as associate editor for tribal affairs at High Country News. He has reported for PBS NewsHour, National Native News, Wyoming Public Radio, NPR, Al Jazeera America, Indian Country Today, and National Geographic, and more. Tristan’s stories have won multiple honors, including investigative awards from Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Gannett Foundation. He additionally was awarded a Nieman Fellowship to study at Harvard University in 2017. He is president of the Native American Journalists Association.

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