Los Angeles, Calif. (June 23, 2021) The Indigenous Education Now Coalition (IEN), comprised of students, parents, community members, Tribes, and Native organizations, is proud to announce that the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education unanimously voted on Tuesday, June 22, to dedicate $10 million to support Indigenous Student Achievement that will bring much needed relief for Native and Indigenous students that have experienced enormous hardships due to the pandemic. 

“The pandemic has been hard. Not being able to go into public, not being able to be in community — such as gathering at powwows — has left a spot in my sense of belonging, and left me feeling isolated by not being able to see other people,” said Tash Montana (Tohono-O’odham), a LAUSD rising junior and member of the Indigenous Education Now Coalition. “It’s been hard enough being a Native student at LAUSD. The LAUSD curriculum has been especially hard, and something I have to decipher about what’s true or not. I learned about my culture and history through my family and friends, not at school at all.” 

Los Angeles Unified School District has the largest American Indian/Alaska Native and Indigenous student populations than any district in the state. “Although our student population is large by our standards, Native and Indigenous students have suffered a history of disinvestment, chronic neglect and invisibility in the district,said Chrissie Castro (Diné & Chicana), member of the Indigenous Education Now Coalition and Executive Director of the California Native Vote Project. “We also know that there are thousands of Indigenous students from Mexico and Central America that are not being counted. Last night, LAUSD took a step in the right direction to correct historical and current harms that educational systems have perpetrated against our students.”

Our community has been working to transform LAUSD on behalf of Native students for decades,” said Rudy Ortega, Jr., Tribal President, Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, and member of the Indigenous Education Now Coalition. “Along this journey, we have lost elders, including Tongva elder, Julia Bogany and Cayuga/Cherokee advocate Sandy Franks. We stand on their shoulders, and all of those that have worked tirelessly for our students for many years.” 

The funding from yesterday’s announcement will be allocated to Native and Indigenous partner organizations and Tribes who can help address critical student service needs related to academic achievement in the district’s larger COVID-19 recovery efforts, and ensure LAUSD schools are places that affirm their unique linguistic, cultural, and historic backgrounds. 


IEN Coalition members were able to mobilize community members to leave nearly 100 voicemail messages to the district hotline, have dozens of its community members email the board with public comment, and garnered more than 1,000 petition signatures in support of Indigenous Student Achievement seed funding. Additionally, IEN Coalition members also stood in solidarity with LA Students Deserve at yesterday’s rally at the LAUSD headquarters, and IEN members were able to share public comment at the LAUSD board meetings throughout the day. 


“This is a historic win, and we should celebrate. But our work doesn’t stop here,” said Castro. “We need better data and reporting; we need to invest dollars into the Indian education program which has been starved of resources for too long; we need to re-establish community oversight with a commission or Community Steering Committee; and there must be meaningful Tribal Consultation, respecting our rights as Native and Indigenous peoples, including regarding curriculum reform.” 

“The power of organizing as a coalition of Tribes, organizations and communities proves to be the most effective path forward. We celebrate the Board of Education’s responsiveness but remind everyone that the allocation is still a pittance compared to the tremendous disadvantage, debt and duty to serve Indigenous students deserve,” said Marcos Aguilar, Nahua Masewalli Mexicano, Executive Director, Semillas del Pueblo-Anahuacalmecac, and member of the Indigenous Education Now Coalition

About the Indigenous Education Now Coalition

Building off the community organizing win of the recognition of Indigenous Peoples Day, a group of Native students, parents and community members came together to participate in a community organizing training series to continue the community momentum, strengthen leadership skills, further political analysis skills, and increase the ability to lead campaigns to change the systems and policies impacting their families. Many of the Native youth and their families were connected to Native organizations or Tribes, and several months later, these relationships resulted in the formation of the Indigenous Education Now Coalition (IEN). 

The coalition has come together to support the vision of the students and parents for a radically different educational system that honors the cultural strengths and teachings of Native and Indigenous families.

The IEN is comprised of the Gabrieleno Tongva Band of Mission Indians, Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Missions Indians, California Native Vote Project, Anahuacalmecac World School, UCLA American Indian Studies Center, Pukuu Cultural Community Services, United American Indian Involvement Clubhouse, and American Indian Community Council, as well as students, parents and community members from throughout the community.


Contact: Jennifer Cuevas


Indigenous and Black Solidarity against Police Brutality

Policing, politics, and pandemics

The police murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department was an outrageous violation of human rights which must result in the prosecution of all the officers involved. The civil unrest which righteously followed was a result of the city of Minneapolis’ inadequate response to the actions of its officers as an entity charged with the protection of all of its residents. Across America, Black teenagers, college students, city councilmen, congressmen and residents of all walks of life have shared detailed accounts of the realities of police violence as a daily repeated reality. In America today, we know that being Black is sufficient for police to justify violence as they represent an unfounded threat based in racism.

The Minneapolis Police Department’s violence against American Indians in many ways also gave birth to the American Indian Movement in the ‘60’s. According to the Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors Group (MUID) — a collaborative of some thirty American Indian organizations operating within the Twin Cities metropolitan area of Minnesota, “The American Indian Movement was founded in Minneapolis in 1968 as a direct response to unchecked brutality being perpetrated by the Minneapolis Police Department upon our community members”.

We stand in solidarity with the African American community, as Peoples who have also experienced violent and structural oppression at the hands of the settler state.

Community leaders are calling for meaningful dialogue and elders are laying down prayers. Escalating police presence and ongoing racist ideologies in police departments across the country is not the solution. Therefore, we demand additional community action and organizing to create an authentic dialogue to address the root causes of police violence against black, brown, and indigenous communities.

This morning we awoke again to the reality of police violence in what is fast becoming the clear trappings of an authoritarian state which is only the latest manifestation of a long history of colonization, genocide and violence of the country against Indigenous peoples. At the border, Indigenous children are incarcerated and cast out, across LA, fathers, sons, and brothers have been beaten and shot to death and the Sheriff remains lawless.

And in Minneapolis, buildings burn.

As a result of the current unrest, a local American Indian education center in Minneapolis, called MIGIZE, Anishinabe for Eagle, was burnt down as well.

We’ve seen this all before. We’ve lived it.

Indigenous Peoples and tribal members of sovereign American Indian nations here in California also include African American family members. In Los Angeles, being Black or Brown is also often enough to be dehumanized and criminalized by local police and sheriffs. Police brutality is part of a larger issue of domination, oppression, and colonization in this country. State violence is in the DNA of the founding of this country, state, and city.

Today, we call for continental solidarity with African American communities in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and here in Los Angeles.

We express our love and kinship with our own African American relatives and call for exhaustive measures to be taken to change the culture and purpose of all police departments.

In the new normal, we cannot accept any use of public institutional violence against us. We need to reimagine the role of law enforcement in US society, one that is guided by creating and championing peace and service to all communities.

In solidarity with our relatives and partners in the Twin Cities metropolitan area of Minnesota, we call for the swift and vigorous prosecution of the four offending (and now terminated) officers complicit in this murder to the fullest extent of the law.

We stand with the African American community, and all other communities regularly targeted for violence by police and sheriff’s departments across the country.

We demand community-based recommendations be implemented without delay in Minneapolis, Los Angeles and across the country. We also demand that more strategies be developed and implemented to properly protect Black, Brown and Indigenous people from the police forces our tax dollars, cities, and towns subsidize, especially as the City of Los Angeles plans to expend additional funds on policing instead of community-building, housing, and education.

As Indigenous Peoples and their allies, we stand in solidarity with all oppressed people in what is currently called the United States, and we call for immediate systemic change with unity, justice and dignity.

We offer our kinship, prayers and commitment from Tovaangar and Tatavium territories (the Los Angeles basin and So. Channel Islands). As a coalition of Indigenous Peoples we pay our respects to the Honuukvetam (Ancestors), ‘Ahiihirom (Elders) and ‘Eyoohiinkem (our relatives/relations) past, present and emerging.

In solidarity,

Chrissie Castro (Diné, Chicana), Chairperson, Los Angeles City/County Native American Indian Commission, Co-founder, California Native Vote Project

Rudy J. Ortega, Jr., Tribal President, Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians

Marcos Aguilar & Minnie Ferguson, (Masewali Mexicano), Letter Co-author, Semillas del Pueblo -Anahuacalmecac World School

Salomon Zavala (Nahua Chicano), Ollin Law, Letter Co-author

Dr. Shannon Speed (Chickasaw), UCLA American Indian Studies Center, Letter Co-author

Celestina Castillo (Tohono O’odham/Chicana), Executive Director, California Native Vote Project

Andrea N. Garcia, MD (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara), Commissioner, Los Angeles City/County Native American Indian Commission, Project Scientist, Department of Psychiatry, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Cynthia M Ruiz (Cherokee Citizen), Tsa-La-Gi LA Council member

Joseph Berra, Human Rights in the Americas Project Director, Human Rights in Action Clinic UCLA Law

Heather Rae, IllumiNative

Felicia Montes & Maria Villamil, Mujeres de Maíz

Odilia Romero (Zapoteca), Frente Indígena de Organizaciones Binacionales (FIOB), Comunidades Indígenas en Liderazgo (CIELO)

Gaspar Rivera-Salgado (Mixteco), Frente Indígena de Organizaciones Binacionales (FIOB)

George Funmaker (Ho-Chunk/Dakota), Red Earth Defense

Policarpo Chan (Maya Quiche), Maya Vision and Mayan Community of LA

Monique Castro (Diné, Chicana), CEO/Founder, Indigenous Circle of Wellness, Co-founder, California Native Vote Project

R. Tolteka Cuauhtin (Xicano Nahua), Save CA Ethnic Studies Coalition

Javier Ramirez (Lenca Poton, Nawat, Pipil), David Escobar (Lenca Poton), Scott Scoggins (Nawat, Pipil) Kuxkatan Indigenous Collective CCNIS, Diáspora representatives

Lydia Ponce (Mayo/Quechua/Scottish), American Indian Movement

Mati Waiya (Chumash, Chichimeca, Nuu-chah-nulth), Executive Director, Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation

Sylvia Gonzales-Youngblood (Ohlone/Costanoan Rumsen|Mexican), Advocate/Activist/Community Leader, Co-Founder|So Cal Administrator, Community Advisory Leadership Collaborative

Alma Marquez, La Comadre Organization

Joel Garcia (Huichol), Meztli Projects

Roberto Flores, Eastside Café

El Sereno Community Land Trust

Jason Erik Reed (African-American/Cherokee), Los Angeles Community Member

Ernesto Tlahuitollini Colín (Mexica/P’uréhpecha), Trustee, Anahuacalmecac World School, Associate Professor, Loyola Marymount University

Gypsy Ayala (Nahua Chicana), Trustee, Anahuacalmecac World School

Edmundo Perez (Macuiltianguis Zapoteca), Trustee, Anahuacalmecac World School

Tino Torres (Chiende Warm Springs Apache New Mexico), Xikano Nation East L.A. California

Bethany Yellowtail (Northern Cheyenne, Crow), Founder/Designer, B.Yellowtail

Tazbah Rose Chavez (Nüümü, Dinè, San Carlos Apache), Poet / Writer / Director

Joey Montoya (Lipan Apache), CEO, Urban Native Era

Shannon Rivers (Akimel O’otham), American Indian Cultural Advisor: Indian Health Center, Santa Clara Valley, Native American Spiritual Leader: for State, Federal, Private and Tribal Correctional Facilities in Arizona and California

N. Bird Runningwater (Cheyenne/Mescalero Apache), Sundance Institute

For more information:

MUIDMN Statement

Los Angeles Unified School District Responds to Formal Complaint Submitted by the Indigenous Education Now Coalition

Los Angeles, Calif. (May 13, 2020) The Los Angeles Unified School District has acknowledged a complaint brought against it by the Indigenous Education Now Coalition – but the gesture is too little too late. 

Last month, the Indigenous Education Now Coalition (IEN) filed a formal complaint with the United States Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, against the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) for failure to comply with federal law requiring tribal consultation with tribes and tribal organizations. On May 4, the Education Equity Compliance Office (EECO) sent an acknowledgement letter to IEN regarding the formal complaint submitted on April 17. 

The Education Equity Compliance Office determined that the allegations made in the complaint are appropriate for an investigation under regulations governing the Uniform Complaint Process (UCP). Due to COVID-19, the District says it will conduct an investigation that has to be completed on or before 60 days following the reopening of schools. In the past, LAUSD has failed to adequately respond to requests made by Coalition members. 

“It is unconscionable that LAUSD would be so brash as to game the COVID-19 crisis to thwart justice by employing delay tactics. Over the last two years it has proven futile to raise this issue with LAUSD, and this letter is another example as to why.  The Coalition does not have to follow a process with a bad actor when it is futile. LAUSD took over a year to even provide records when requested before, all of which they could have produced within days,” said Marcos Aguilar, Executive Director of Anahuacalmecac World School. 

“The District has inadequately responded to our formal complaint. While we understand that COVID-19 may delay processes, the letter the Los Angeles Unified School District sent the Coalition demonstrates a lack of urgency to respond. As the first people of Los Angeles, it is incredibly frustrating that our local tribes are never given the respect or opportunity to provide input when it comes to American Indian Education,” said Rudy J. Ortega, Jr., Tribal President, Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Missions Indians. 

The complaint highlights, among other evidence, Section 8538 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA or Act), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), that requires that educational agencies (LEA) like the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) “shall consult” with appropriate officials from Indian tribes or tribal organizations approved by tribes prior to the LEA’s submission of a required plan or application for a covered program under the Act, or for a program under Title VI of the Act (relating to Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native Education).

The Act further requires that, “Such consultation must be done in a manner and in such time that provides the opportunity for such appropriate officials from Indian tribes or tribal organizations to meaningfully and substantively contribute to such plan.” (20 U.S.C § 7918.) “Appropriate officials” means tribal officials who are elected, or appointed tribal leaders or officials designated in writing by an Indian tribe for the specific consultation purpose under 20 U.S.C. §7918(c)(2). 

“Because of the lack of adequate consultation, Native students are disproportionately suffering due to the COVID-19 crisis. Statewide, Native students have the highest percentage of food insecurity and lowest rates of digital access, all while having the lowest high school graduation rate and highest chronic absenteeism. It’s tone deaf for the district to tell us to wait until school is back in session,” said Chrissie Castro, Co-founder and Senior Advisor of the California Native Vote Project. 

In response to historic disparity and inequities faced by Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and other Indigenous students, the IEN formed more than one year ago. Now, the Coalition calls upon the U.S. Department of Education to ensure that the Los Angeles Unified School District properly consults with local Indian tribes and organizations, as well as respond to the COVID-19 crisis exacerbating historic neglect of Indigenous students across Los Angeles. 

“The failure of the district has led to educational outcomes that are unacceptable for Native students. Our community has come together to say we aren’t going to take it anymore,” said Celestina Castillo, Executive Director of the California Native Vote Project.  

About Indigenous Education Now Coalition

The IEN is comprised of the Gabrieleno-Tongva Band of Mission Indians, Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Missions Indians, California Native Vote Project, Anahuacalmecac World School, UCLA American Indian Studies Center, Pukuu Cultural Community Services, United American Indian Involvement Clubhouse, and American Indian Community Council, as well as students, parents and community members from throughout the community. 


Contact: Jennifer Cuevas