Why We're #HighlineProud of Our Native Education Program

Native Heritage Month is an opportunity to celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, languages and histories of our Native students and their families. This month, and every month, we celebrate the important contributions made by our country's first peoples that have shaped our community.

See what makes our Native students, families and community partners proud to be part of the Highline community. And read a special message from our Native Education Program Manager Sara Marie Ortiz. 

Native Student Connections and Excellence in Education

By: Sara Marie Ortiz, Native Education Program Manager

Sara Marie Ortitz is Highline's Native Education Program Manager and is a tribal citizen of the Pueblo of Acoma in central New Mexico.

Nationally, the second Monday in October is Indigenous Peoples Day and November is designated as Native Heritage Month–but it’s Indigenous Peoples Day365 days a year in the Highline Public Schools Native Education Program!

There are lots of opportunities, inclusive of Indigenous Peoples Day and Native Peoples’ History & Heritage Month, to honor, center, and celebrate the vibrant cultures, histories, traditional knowledge systems, languages, and contributions of our 573 federally recognized sovereign tribal nations in the United States and our American Indian and Alaska Native students and their families right here in Highline. 

Our Highline Native Education Program currently supports more than 400 American Indian and Alaska Native students and their families. Board policy 2197, passed in 2014, underscores our district’s responsibilities to our Native students and their families and we’re one of the only districts in the entire nation with a policy of its kind.

There’s no program like ours in Highline. It’s truly remarkable and most don’t realize our program has been in existence for over 40 years. Our mission to serve Native learners and their families is unique and since the re-launch of our program in 2013 we’ve also made it our mission to transform our system, and to continue to make it better equipped to serve Native learners in Highline every single day.

The graduation rate among Native Education enrolled-students in Highline was an outstanding 88.8% for the 2017-18 school year. We serve our American Indian and Alaska Native students in so many meaningful ways. We're able to support Native student excellence and celebrate and honor the beauty and vitality of our whole Native community in all we do.

Highline Public Schools honors its treaty-based responsibilities to our sovereign tribal nations in the US and its citizens. Honoring the new mandate in the Every Student Succeeds Act, we consult and partner regularly with Muckleshoot Indian Tribe to improve our ability to serve Native students from all tribal nations in our district and to implement the state-mandated Washington State Since Time Immemorial Tribal Sovereignty Curriculum districtwide in accordance with Senate Bill 5433. Endorsed by all 29 federally recognized tribes in Washington state, this unique curriculum provides students with foundational understandings of our tribal nations in Washington State, geo-political matters impacting all citizens, and tribal sovereignty. District resolution 07-17 is an important articulation of our district’s commitment to work in partnership with our closest sovereign tribal nation to implement the curriculum system-wide for the betterment of every student in Highline. 

The 29 federally-recognized tribal nations of Washington State, as well as thousands of citizens and descendants from the 573 sovereign tribal nations throughout the United States and First Nations of Canada, make major contributions to our state and our local communities every single day.

This month, and every month, we honor and celebrate the lives, continuance, and contributions of the millions of Native peoples throughout the nation and their ancestors who were the original stewards of this land.