National Advisory Council on Indian Education (NACIE)

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Robin Butterfield is senior liaison for minority community outreach at the National Education Association, and is an enrolled member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska with ancestry also from the White Earth Ojibwa Tribe of Minnesota.

National Advisory Council on Indian Education (NACIE)

Date Posted: 
2013-03-12 10:03

Blog Series:

As a relatively new member of the Vision Maker Media board of directors, I have been on a steep learning curve. I am so honored to have the opportunity to explore the whole arena of public television and film development for Native people, especially being an educator where we are always looking for authentic, relevant, culturally based materials to further educate ourselves and others. I am a Hochunk/Anishanabe with over 40 years of experience as an educator, focusing mostly on Native and multicultural education. I have worked at all levels from the classroom to national organizations committed to impacting policy that will better serve Native students and communities.

Most recently, I returned from Washington DC where I was serving as a Presidential appointee on the National Advisory Council on Indian Education (NACIE). This auspicious group is charged to develop a report to Congress annually, focusing on recommendations which will improve the whole arena of Native education. The NACIE is further enlisted in the oversight of the relatively new President’s Executive Order (EO) on Indian Education and Tribally Controlled Community Colleges, signed in December of 2011. This EO is designed to further elevate attention and efforts for improving educational outcomes for Native students, not only by the US Department of Education and the Department of Interior where the Bureau of Indian Education resides, but also the many other Federal agencies which have resources focusing on education and Native communities. This past week ushered in the first Interagency Task Force meeting to clarify the development of agency-wide work plans, no small task!

On a more personal note, I have just relocated to Olympia, Washington to begin a new position as Program Supervisor, Office of Native Education which captures a great deal of my previous personal experience, and lands me in a place where I can continue to support Natives and schools serving Native communities.  I am not too far from my own three children, now young adults, all graduates from the University of Oregon who are beginning their careers and families. My two grandchildren are a constant source of inspiration and joy, and I am back on the west coast, close to my large extended family.  Finding balance in my life means that I have time to work on my quilts and beadwork and I have regular gatherings with my daughters who are tremendous artists who continue to amaze me with their creativity and skill. With my son only an hour away in Seattle, life just could not get much better.

Finally, the use of film has acquired special meaning for me as a medium for tell our stories, since my cousin Renya Ramirez is working on a film, financed mostly by the Hochunk Nation , depicting the life and work of my grandfather  Dr. Henry Roe Cloud. As the first American Indian to graduate from Yale in 1910, Grand as we call him, did all the major research and writing for the Miriam report which became the basis for the Indian Reorganization Act and has had far a reaching impact across Indian country, establishing the basis for tribal courts, scholarships for higher education, tribal governmental structures, and much more. I was recently interviewed for the film, along with my brother Mark who is a lawyer and head of Hochunk tribal Housing. I am eargerly awaiting the trailer, as this project unfolds.