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Wakanyeja - Early Childhood Education Initiative

Wakanyeja “Sacred Little Ones”
Early Childhood Education Initiative

Creating Systems of Care and Learning for Native children
  • Wakanyeja ECE Initiative Grantees attend NAEYC, 2014
  • Shelley Macy and Kelsie Lawrence present their research at NAEYC 2014
  • Ilisagvik College, College of Menominee and SIPI reps, NAEYC 2014
  • SIPI representatives meet early learning educators from Texas!
  • Taking turns caring for our garden
  • Ready to learn how to sand our own pottery!
  • Celebration of “Indian Market” learning unit – All young children are capable of learning
  • Building strong fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination at SIPI’s YDI Head Start
  • Learning from CHiXapkaid (Dr. Pavel) about When the animals learned to dance together
  • Dr. Lansing presenting collective inquiry at the Native Children’s Research Exchange
  • Northwest Indian College team presents at the 2014 Annual Convening of Grantees
  • Exploration of videography
  • 2014 Annual Convening of Grantees – Closing circle: Reaffirming our shared vision.
  • Context of Native culture influences every aspect of development
  • Together, SIPI and the YDI Head Start create opportunities to learn across domains

Project Description:

The American Indian College Fund, through the Wakanyeja "Sacred Little Ones" - Tribal College Readiness and Success by Third Grade, is working to bring together tribal colleges, communities, educators, and families to address early learning disparities in Native communities. The initiative addresses the following five domains:

Wakanyeja ECE Initiative: Overview

  1. Improve cognitive and non-cognitive skill acquisition among American Indian children
  2. Improve early childhood teacher education quality in Native communities by partnering with post-secondary teacher education programs at tribal colleges
  3. Bridge early childhood education Pre-K transition to K-3 schooling
  4. Integrate Native language(s) and culture(s) into curriculum development and instruction for teacher preparation programming, early childhood education centers, and K-3 settings
  5. Empower families and communities to act as agents of change in education for their children


In 2011, four tribal colleges were selected through a competitive process to participate in the Wakanyeja ECE Initiative and received up to $935,000 over four years to develop and strengthen early childhood education programs at tribal colleges. The Wakanyeja ECE Initiative grantees are: Ilisagvik College (Barrow, AK), College of Menominee Nation (Keshena, WI), Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (Albuquerque, NM), and Northwest Indian College (Bellingham, WA).
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