NAU recognized as influential university in American Indian education

Northern Arizona University’s commitment to American Indian education was recognized in a new study highlighting the most influential organizations, universities and people in American Indian/Alaska Native education policy.

The study, “For Our Children: A Study and Critical Discussion of the Influences of the American Indian and Alaska Native Education Policy,” cited NAU as an influential university along with five other universities across the country, including Arizona State University.

Jon Allan Reyhner, professor of bilingual multicultural education, also was recognized as one of the “most influential professors in American Indian/Alaska Native education.”

Reyhner, who joined NAU in 1995, has devoted his career to American Indian education and indigenous language revitalization. Through his extensive writing on the subject, Reyhner hopes his research can make a positive difference in education by preparing the next generation of teachers to be more sensitive to the cultural distinctions that influence how minority students learn.

While Reyhner acknowledged the accolade, he also pointed to the active work of his colleagues. “Dr. Joseph Martin here is very influential with his many contacts in Indian education and Dr. Willard Sakiestewa Gilbert is former president of the National Indian Education Association,” he said. “Our connections with tribes, our work with K-12 schools and the conferences we’ve hosted have really propelled NAU forward.”

NAU’s inclusion in the study reflects the university’s strategic goal to become the nation’s leading university serving Native Americans. NAU has more than 1,200 Native American students enrolled, representing more than 90 tribes throughout the U.S.

With the addition of the Native American Cultural Center in 2011, the university continues to offer support during students’ college years and facilitate service learning that benefits tribal communities.