“One of the reasons Indian children experience difficulty in schools is that educators traditionally have attempted to insert culture into education instead of inserting education into culture.”  Cornel Pewewardy 


Resilience in Something Else (RISE)


RISE is a group created from the COVID-19 pandemic due to students' need for support and connection in our socially distanced time. This group has fostered relationships across the state of Montana and continues to thrive due to the invaluable opportunities for leadership development and relationship building. One of the main focuses of RISE is connection with personal culture as well as heritage, the students uphold these values each meeting.

Meetings are held every other week with schools across the state and they are Youth Designed and Youth Led!

For more information contact Alicia Doney at alicia.doney@mt.gov

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2024 RISE Tribal Education Summit


April 3-5, 2024 in Missoula, MT

The Office of Public Instruction, in partnership with the RISE Native Youth Leadership group, is pleased to host the 2024 RISE Tribal Education Summit. Students, school staff, Knowledge Keepers, and Tribal leaders, are invited to join RISE student leaders and OPI staff in a shared commitment to support Montana’s Native students through forming new and strengthened partnerships, sharing stories of success, and leveraging the strengths of Montana’s tribal cultures. For more information and to register, please see the event flyer or contact Alicia Doney (alicia.doney@mt.gov).

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2024 RISE Summit Logo of two Native people holding hands surrounded by sweet grass


Artwork by Saanjay Smallboy- Arlee High School 

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RISE Student Leadership Group Logo- Artwork by Sara Still Smoking and Myklynn Lewis 


2023 RISE Summit Logos

2023 RISE logo of 4 Native American people in traditional dress

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2023 Conference Logos by Saanjay Small Boy (top) from Arlee and Rise Up Logo (bottom) by Angel Little Head from Hardin.



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Guidance on Facilitating Local Education Agency (LEA) Requests for Effective Tribal Communication 


The Tribal Relations and Resiliency Unit (TRRU) was developed to build relationships and understandings within the Office of Public Instruction (OPI) and Montana school districts to incorporate Tribal voice, share resources and build connections through consultation on matters affecting American Indian students. It has since evolved to be the Tribal Student Achievement, Relations, and Resiliency Unit (TSARR). Within ESSA requirements, we will work to support school districts and tribal leaders to work collaboratively for the benefit of our youth. ESSA gives us an excellent opportunity to re-envision our educational systems in Indian country.

In conjunction with the ESSA approach, we will also follow the traditional tribal protocol of consultation through the guidance of Elders. We have convened an Elder and Culture Wisdom Council for guidance in our efforts. Taking their direction as we work to solidify self-identity, holistic wellness and knowledge sharing from these corresponding doctoral level indigenous educators. Within our team, we have added the School Mental Health Support Services Coordinator tasked to provide wellness and holistic support pertinent in a student's educational journey. It is important for all children today to be supported in the mental health and wellness. Through these relationships and partnership, we work to lift the resiliency, wisdom and beauty of our indigenous people at every level within OPI and local educational agencies (LEA's).


Every Student Succeeds Act Tribal Consultation Pre-Planning Tool for Tribes

MONTANA OPI - TITLE FUNDS - Verification of Tribal Consultation

Meaningful Local Engagement Under ESSA - Handbook for LEA and School Leaders

Graduate Profile Development: Engaging Montana Tribes & American Indians

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Which Covered Programs Require Consultation:

The following is a list of current programs which require an affected LEA to consult with Indian tribes or tribal organizations prior to submitting either a plan or application for covered programs:

  • Title I, Part A (Improving Basic Programs Operated by State and Local Educational Agencies)
  • Title I, Part C (Education and Migratory Children)
  • Title I, Part D (Prevention and Intervention Programs for Children and Youth who are Neglected, Delinquent, or At-Risk)
  • Title II, Part A (Supporting Effective Instruction)
  • Title III, Part A (English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement Act)
  • Title IV, Part A (Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants)
  • Title IV, Part B (21st Century Community Learning Centers)
  • Title V, Part B, subpart 2 (Rural and Low-Income School Program)
  • Title VI, Part A, subpart 1 (Indian Education Formula Grants to Local Educational Agencies)

Consultation will create opportunities for LEA's and tribal leaders to work together on behalf of American Indian and Alaska Native students, ensuring that this process drives positive outcomes for administrators, Indian tribes and tribal representatives, and most importantly, Native students. 

 MONTANA OPI - Verification of Tribal Consultation for Title Funds

The Shared Strategies to Support American Indian Students document is a direct result of Tribal Consultation and community participation.  Through a series of conversations with OPI staff, Tribal Leaders and their departments, community members, language instructors, school staff and youth, we collaborated to identity effective strategies schools may consider implementing to support youth, and strengthen school and community supports for years to come. 
These efforts have place-based traditional strategies of success while being informed by federal guidance on the use of ESSER III funds.  We wanted to gather skilled and knowledgeable stakeholders to share the good things happening in their schools and communities and share it across the state as it pertains to ENRICHMENT. 
Academic enrichment provides an opportunity for inclusion and educational evolution as schools adapt and braid philosophies, methodologies and practices that can work for our American Indian students to help center and balance the educational life journey they are on. 

Tribal Consultation 


Our Collaborative Efforts 

In October of 2021, we developed the Elder and Cultural Wisdom Council (ECWC), which in September 2022 was renamed to the Knowledge Keepers of Indigenous Nations (KKIN).  When we embark on a new journey, we consult our Knowledge Keepers to guide us. KKIN will help guide our efforts of indigenizing our schools and to bring balance in our work. 

Self identity, language, mental health and traditional wellness supports from these teachings hold strong and impact our youth to live a longer and beautiful life. 

KKIN, representing cultural elders and knowledge keepers from every tribal nation in Montana, will help us  build sustainable sources of indigenous knowledge that inform our public education system to re-root and revitalize our tribal youth in positive self-identity. This is also good for all Montanans as KKIN will provide quality, culturally appropriate knowledge and resources from the Tribes of Montana to enhance educational systems with robust knowledge that exists within the original inhabitants of indigenous communities that populate our Great State.