November is National Indian Heritage Month, and city, state, and private events are being held across the nation to mark the occasion.
As we celebrate our heritage, let’s also celebrate our endurance as a people. We have achieved so much, and that is largely due to education that celebrates and reinforces our culture.
According to The Institute for Higher Education Policy, educational attainment correlates with economic prosperity. A person who has earned a bachelor’s degree or higher earns almost four times as much as a person who did not graduate from high school, and more than twice as much as a person who holds a high school diploma; this is true for American Indians and the U.S. population in general.
It isn’t about the money, of course. Education is about bettering oneself and one’s people, bringing them along so that we all as a people can enjoy greater standards of living, greater educational attainment, lower numbers of poverty, lower incidences of disease, and more fulfilled lives as Indian people.
As Sherman Alexie said during a keynote address at the National Indian Education Association meeting in Seattle, he was often asked by people on his reservation after he left to go to school, “Do you think you are better than us?” Alexie replied, “No, we’re all better than this.”