American Indian and the indigenous populations throughout the United States reside in unique and differing places. Teaching on a reservation can be a life altering experience that will never be forgotten, and often shared. As of 2016, there were 566 tribes "recognized" by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In addition, there are hundreds more in existence which are not categorized. In 2006, the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) was restructured to "provide quality education opportunities from early childhood through life in accordance with a tribe's need for cultural and economic well-being, in keeping with the wide diversity of Indian tribes and Alaska Native villages as distinct cultural and governmental entities." Currently the BIE oversees 183 schools in 23 states serving more than 42,000 American Indian students. Fifty-four of these schools are BIE operated and 129 are tribally operated under contracts or grants. These may include residential boarding schools in the more remote areas.

Troops to Teachers assists participants who desire to teach in a BIE school or public school residing on or near a designated reservation, nation, village, Rancheria, pueblo, or community with a high population of indigenous students. Assistance is also provided with attaining necessary teaching credentials, counseling, job preparation, and facilitating employment.

Applying for a position in a BIE school

Applying for a position with a BIE school requires the applicant to go through the BIE hiring process. In most cases, teacher credentialing is the same for teaching on a reservation as any other school within the state. If the applicant can provide documentation of tribal membership, they will be given hiring preference in BIE schools under the Indian Preference Act.

Teaching on a reservation

Teaching on a reservation or with American Indian students can bring rewards not found in any other school. Being our nation's first people, each tribe brings their own unique customs, traditions, and dynamics that can only be truly realized by being entrenched in it. Participants will learn the American Indian language, value of family, beliefs, honor, and pride that the Native American people like to share with those who are open to learning. By studying dance, art, music, communication, and ties to the earth, one can only be proud of the richness in heritage that continues in each generation. Each tribe, in each state, has their own sense of self with tradition and history that makes each special and valued. Troops to Teachers participants may elect to live on a rural piece of land on the Navajo Nation which now crosses the borders of three states and covers nearly 28,000 square miles or teach in a school with a higher population of Native American youth outside a smaller reservation in Florida which is just over an acre in size. The landscapes, vastness, peace, culture, tradition, and history are rich in heritage and rewards are limitless.

Saint Stephens School Traditional garments School with a bus parked outside

Indian Affairs Legislation

SEC. 1120. [25 U.S.C. 2000]

Congress declares that the Federal Government has the sole responsibility for the operation and financial support of the Bureau of Indian Affairs funded school system that it has established on or near Indian reservations and indian trust lands throughout the Nation for Indian children. It is the policy of the United States to fulfill the Federal Government's unique and continuing trust relationship with and responsibility to the Indian people for the education of Indian children and for the operation and financial support of the Bureau of Indian Affairs-funded school system to work in full cooperation with tribes toward the goal of ensuring that the programs of the Bureau of Indian Affairs-funded school system are of the highest quality and provide for the basic elementary and secondary educational needs of Indian children, including meeting the unique education and cultural needs of those children.

Federally Recognized Tribes

The following state-by-state listing of Indian tribes or groups are federally recognized and eligible for funding and services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). There are currently 566 federally recognized tribes.

Alabama | Alaska | Arizona | California | Colorado | Connecticut | Florida | Idaho | Iowa | Kansas | Louisiana | Maine | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Montana | Nebraska | Nevada | New Mexico | New York | North Carolina | North Dakota | Oklahoma | Oregon | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Texas | Utah | Virginia | Washington | Wisconsin | Wyoming