In many classrooms across the Navajo Nation few Navajo students are able to look at their instructors and see a reflection of themselves. Navajo students are often taught by non-Navajo instructors who show up on the Navajo reservation having never set foot in an all-Navajo classroom or have never come in contact with Navajo students. Many non-Navajo instructors who show up on the reservation with little knowledge of the Navajo students they teach from the grade school to college. They are unaware of the history their ancestors endured and still affects them to date, they are uninformed of Native American cognition that sets Navajo students apart as well as their learning styles, and they are unfamiliar with the culture and tradition that is embedded deep within all Navajo students. Understanding students one teaches is vital to the academic success of the students, especially when it comes to understanding Native American students, which is something Hani Morgan, author of “What Every Teacher Needs to Know to Teach Native American Students,” understands when she says, “Numerous researchers hypothesized that discontinuities between teachers and students will hinder student performance in school. These discontinuities could involve learning and communication styles as well as a curriculum which is not culturally relevant” (10). Morgan suggests the need for cultural awareness among non-Native American instructors teaching Native American students, in this case, Navajo students.
For Navajo students to become better, successful students, their non-Navajo instructors must gain cultural awareness, an awareness that includes being cognizant of their culture, cognition and history context.
This web site sets out to give those non-Navajo instructors the proper information and guidance needed to better teach Navajo students and to become cultural aware. The site touches on historical contexts of Native American and Navajo people, and their relationship to western education. It offers insight into the need for cultural awareness. And it gives non-Navajo instructors a starting point to become culturally aware that include approaches in pedagogy and ways to make ones classroom culturally sensitive, to name a few. Finally, this web site offers a call-to-action to Navajo educational institutions to mandate all non-Navajo instructors to take a cultural awareness workshop during new employee orientation.