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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
  • Tarajean Yazzie-Mintz (Program Officer) and Danielle Lansing (SIPI, Project Director) present WiPCE Host Committee with a gift from the American Indian College Fund, Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Cyndi Pyatskowit, Project Director at College of Menominee Nation, presents at the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education
  • Connecting at the international gathering of Indigenous early childhood educators at Keiki ?o ka ??ina Family Center
  • College of Menominee Nation, at the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education
  • College of Menominee Nation present their project research poster at the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education
  • Northwest Indian College presents their project research poster at the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education
  • Menominee books for Menominee children!
  • Ilisagvik College's Uqautchim Ulgua
  • Learning Inupiaq!
  • Pretend play at Uqautchim Ulgua
  • Northwest Indian College, Early Childhood Student Teacher Celebration
  • Northwest Indian College

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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