BIE Newsletter - October 22, 2018

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bureau of indian education - doing whats best for students

OCTOBER 22, 2018


Dearman Headshot

I am excited to present the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) Newsletter where we can share updates, news items, and success stories from across the BIE. There are so many positive and uplifting stories about staff, faculty, and students. In this issue, we are highlighting the BIE Native Language Conference and the recent work with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

I also know there are more stories of teachers who are making a difference in their classrooms, and students who are winning awards or receiving scholarships. We want to hear about these stories and feature them here for all to share. This newsletter is a great way to tell our stories about how we continually strive to raise the quality of education throughout the BIE school system, and is one way of supporting each other as we work to accomplish the BIE’s mission.

If you have any story ideas to submit, please contact BIE Communications Specialist Leonda Levchuk at (202) 208-5030 or send a summary with hi-resolution images to

I look forward to seeing your stories. I also want to thank you for your dedicated work every day towards improving and advancing our important mission.


Native Language Conference

The 2018 Native American Languages Summit: Honoring the Gift of Native American Languages took place August 28 and 29 in Midwest City, Oklahoma.

The Native Languages Summit has been a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Administration for Native Americans, the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Education and the U.S. Department of Education / White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education. The three agencies have revised their Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), to continue to work in partnership on programming, resources development and policy across our agencies. The MOA encourages programs and projects supported by any of the MOA partners to include instruction in and preservation of Native American languages.

The partners formed a Native Language Workgroup and each of the partner agencies worked both internally and externally to identify barriers, levers, and promising practices that will help communities implement successful programs and projects that further the goal of language preservation and revitalization. In addition, the Native Language Workgroup identified areas of collaboration to share resources across agencies and partner communities. These relationships provide better dissemination of funding announcements, identification of resources, encourage cross promotion of events, and allow us to share information via webinars that benefit our shared audiences. Their goal is to identify ways to further support communities teaching their Native languages.


Sharon Pinto, Deputy Bureau Director for School Operations

Sharon Pinto

Please join us in welcoming Ms. Sharon Pinto to our BIE family. Ms. Pinto is the newly appointed Deputy Bureau Director for School Operations at the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE). She will be working on budget execution, acquisitions, safety and facilities-related issues of direct concern to BIE schools. She is the resource for school administrators to resolve questions, fast track priorities, and identify best practices.

Previously, she served as the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Navajo Regional Director, holding that position since October 2011. She provided direction and oversight for transportation, realty, water resources, forestry, national resources, oil and gas, probate, environment and administration operations Prior to becoming the acting regional director, Pinto had been serving as the deputy regional director for the Navajo Region since October 2007, where she was responsible for providing oversight and management of BIA regional trust resource management and tribal services programs.

Pinto began her federal career in October 2001 as an Indian self-determination specialist with the BIA’s Southwest Regional Office in Albuquerque, N.M. She provided 638 training to BIA and tribal employees, worked with 23 tribes on administrative support cost issues, and sought to improve the distribution of regional indirect cost funds. She served in that position until her promotion to the post of Indian self-determination officer in the Navajo Regional Office in December 2004, where her responsibilities included supervising and directing the regional self-determination office.

Ms. Pinto is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Sociology from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.

We look forward in benefiting from Ms. Pinto’s vast tribal and federal experience along with the valuable relationships she has built with Tribal communities.



BIE Director Tony Dearman signed an MOA on Native languages with Acting Executive Director, White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education Ron Lessard and the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Native American Affairs Jeannie Hovland during the Administration for Native American tribal consultation held in Washington, D.C. on September 13.

The BIE recognizes that the traditional languages of American Indian students are an integral part of their cultures and identities, and has been shown to play a role in their academic achievement. There are a wide variety of programs in place to meet the language and culture needs of the communities in which the schools are located.

The Bureau’s newly-released Strategic Direction is aimed to transform American Indian education and has identified, “Promoting the Sustainability of Native Culture, History, and Languages” as one of four major priority areas.

This agreement will allow the three partners to work together and encourage programs and projects to include instruction in and for the preservation of Native languages.


BIE is pleased to announce the awards of five, one-year cooperative agreements with organizations and colleges to provide technical assistance and professional development for Native Language Immersion Programs to BIE funded schools. BIE has partnered with The Language Conversancy, Indigenous Language Institute, National Indian Education Association, Diné College and The University of New Mexico. The cooperative agreements will build capacity within BIE by working with organizations and colleges to build foundational elements of a BIE Native Language Immersion initiative and to improve existing Native Language Immersion programs in BIE through assessing needs, assets and preferences; strategic planning for the initiative; and organizational learning and development. BIE schools will also receive programmatic and instructional support such as developing, revising and refining Native Language standards, curriculum, scope, sequence, assessment and teaching strategies.


Boys and girls club

Katherine Campbell from BIE (3rd from right) meets with Boys & Girls Club staff along with other Native organizations.

The BIE and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) have had a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) dating back to 2004. In the last several years, the BGCA and BIE have been working to renew this partnership. This MOA is intended to try to combat the adversity faced by American Indian children. It will provide an opportunity for BIE and BGCA to address issues like alcohol and drug abuse while improving academic success through establishment of youth clubs in communities that have a BIE-funded school/dormitory. The collaboration will allow local schools and tribal communities to work with BGCA to fight issues like alcohol and substance abuse and promote positive alternatives while improving academic success for Indian children at risk.

Currently, there are 16 BGCA clubs located at BIE facilities. BIE and BGCA wanted to update this agreement so other schools/dormitories might pursue this opportunity. BGCA’s commitment is evident, when, in February, they donated more than 900 tablets for students at 10 BIE dormitories.

Over the past 25 years, BGCA has partnered with Tribal nations and the BIE, supporting their efforts to create opportunities for Native youth to succeed. Native youth draw strength from their culture, and Boys & Girls Clubs in Indian Country support deepening Native youth’s cultural identity through programming that promotes positive youth development.

In 2013, BGCA established a Native Services Unit within BGCA, led by Native people, and had made direct connections with tribes and BIE funded schools/dormitories. The Native Services Unit assists in capacity-building at Native Clubs, including developing leaders at all levels of our Native organizations. Rooted in the cultural and historical context of Native communities, the Native Services Unit enhances BGCA’s ability to:

• Build and sustain collaborations with tribal leaders and stakeholders;
• Provide professional development and networking specifically for Native Clubs; and
• Strengthen Native youth’s cultural identity through customized programming.

GCA opened its first Club in Indian Country in 1992. Today, BGCA operates as a national network of nearly 200 Native Clubs serving nearly 90,000 youth in 27 states, representing some 100 different American Indian, Alaska Native, American Samoan and Hawaiian communities.

BIE attended a meeting at the Boys & Girls Club of America Headquarters in Atlanta, GA on August 29-30, 2018. This meeting was to discuss club expansion on the Navajo reservation with the Navajo President’s Office. The following day, the BIE attended a meeting with other federal partners to discuss ideas on BGCA’s efforts in Indian Country.


Haskell hosted the Mentoring Our Own Native Scientists Workshop September 19-20, 2018. The purpose of the Mentoring Our Own Native Scientists (MOONS) workshop is to discuss solutions to the many challenges Native students face along the academic path toward advanced STEM degrees. This is important because it has been reported by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (2018) that Native students are the only ethnic group in the United States with declining numbers of students completing advance STEM degrees. The goal of this workshop is to inform the FIRST (Facilitating Indigenous Research, Science, and Technology) network of scholars currently working to reverse this trend with innovative ideas to aid in their efforts. Those who joined us are U.S. and International Native scholars interested in discussing solutions to the many challenges Native students face.



The BIE has established a Trauma Resilient School System (TRSS) Pilot Initiative to begin this school year. A diverse team has been established from across the BIE to assist with drafting the program and to provide technical assistance to schools participating in the TRSS Pilot. The Team recently met September 18 in Albuquerque, NM to continue writing the initiative and receive valuable professional development necessary to move this important work forward. On September 19, the Team along with approximately 35 other BIE Regional and School staff received training and certification in Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA). YMHFA is an eight-hour public education program which introduces participants to the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents, builds understanding of the importance of early intervention, and teaches individuals how to help an adolescent in crisis or experiencing a mental health challenge. Mental Health First Aid uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to assess a mental health crisis; select interventions and provide initial help; and connect young people to professional, peer, social, and self-help care.



The CFC has official started!  Our goal this year for DOI is $400,000. 

  • More than $8.3 billion raised since inception in 1961
  • Approximately 8,000 vetted charities are members
  • $38.7 million raised by National Capitol Area in 2017
  • 36 total zones
  • Solicitation is from now until January 11, 2019.   

Federal employees, contractors and retirees can participate. 


List of Charities Search

Any questions? Contact your BIE or BIA CFC Keyworker: 

Leonda Levchuk at (202) 208-5030 or

Agnes Yackshaw at (202) 208-4487 or



November 1, 2018 at 2:00 to 5:30 p.m. EST

Do you remember the first time you learned about American Indians in school? If you are like most Americans, you probably received only a tiny glimpse into the rich and diverse cultures, histories and contemporary lives of Native peoples. You may even have learned inaccurate histories, and demeaning and false stereotypes. Join this online symposium in which expert speakers explore the need and how to transform this narrative and inspire a more comprehensive vision of American history and a richer understanding of our shared experience as a nation. Learn more about NMAI’s national education initiative, Native Knowledge 360°. The museum and its partners among Native nations and in the education community are producing a wealth of information and materials to demonstrate that American history cannot be understood without understanding American Indian events—and to show that by engaging in more complete histories we can build an empathetic and better informed citizenry. 




Each November educators across the country teach their students about the First Thanksgiving, a quintessentially American holiday. They try to give students an accurate picture of what happened in Plymouth in 1621 and explain how that event fits into American history. Unfortunately, many teaching
materials give an incomplete, if not inaccurate, portrayal of the first Thanksgiving, particularly of the event’s Native American participants. Here is a resource produced by the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian.

DOWNLOAD the teaching poster here.