Native American education concerns the art, culture, history and contemporary life of peoples descended from the indigenous inhabitants of North America. Continue reading to learn more about the topics covered in these programs and opportunities in the field.
Degree programs in Native American studies are available at the associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree levels. Graduate certificates are also available. If you want to teach, you could pursue a program that includes education or earn a separate teaching certificate.
This training can lead to you to a career in a traditional classroom, educating your students about the history, art, lifestyle and culture of the peoples indigenous to North America. You could also work as a teacher on Native American Indian reservations. According to the Census Bureau, the results from the 2010 Census indicated that nearly 2 million people identified themselves as being Native American (www.census.gov).
You could teach Native American studies at the middle school, high school or collegiate level. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 655,090 people taught in middle schools and more than a million taught in high schools in 2010 (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported that about 8,980 university professors taught cultural studies that same year. As a teacher, you should be confident, an excellent communicator and knowledgeable about your field. You also need to be able to motivate your students.
The BLS projected that between 2008 and 2018 the employment of middle school teachers and university professors would increase by 15%. However, it projected that the employment of high school teachers would only increase by nine percent. As of May 2010, the median annual salary for middle school teachers was $51,960 and for high school teachers it was $53,230, according to the BLS. The median annual salary for cultural studies professors was $68,020 as of May 2010.
To become a high school teacher or a middle school teacher, you must earn at least a bachelor's degree with a teaching certification. To work at a public school in any of the 50 states, you must also have a teaching license, which you can earn by taking a licensure exam through your state's board of education. With a bachelor's degree in Native American studies, you could pursue an advanced degree in a related field, such as anthropology, cultural studies, history or Native American languages.
Through an associate's or a bachelor's degree program in Native American studies, you may explore topics that affect Native Americans today, including their political status, their philosophies, contemporary issues, health problems and economics. Coursework may also cover tribal art, films, archeology and American Indian languages. This can prepare you to help counter your students' preconceptions and stereotypes of Native Americans by teaching them about what life was and is like for the indigenous peoples.
You could pursue a master's or a doctoral degree program in Native American studies or pursue a specialization in Native American studies from within a school's anthropology degree program. You could also pursue a specialization such as the education of American Indians, Native American societies or Native American literature. Coursework may address laws pertaining to Native Americans, the politics, the lives of the men and women, religious beliefs and the effects of racism on the culture. This could lead to a job as a college professor.