What We Face 

The painful history of education on tribal lands is defined by the forceful separation of Indigenous children from their families, communities, and culture. Inspired by a “kill the Indian, save the man” philosophy, the Indian education system was designed to erase Indigenous values and ways of life, the effects of which continue today: mainstream curricula don’t affirm Indigenous history and culture, teachers and school leaders are ill-prepared to meet students’ unique learning needs, and education decisions are often made unilaterally by leaders who do not share the values of Indigenous communities. Unsurprisingly, this system has led to abysmal results; Indigenous students struggle with some of the worst academic outcomes of any demographic group.


To unravel the harmful legacy of the Indian education system, schools must affirm the identities of Indigenous students and actively invite the perspectives and input of families, communities, and the students themselves. We believe that, with the right training and support, Indigenous teachers and principals can be powerful catalysts for that change. That’s why we are working to retain and support Indigenous principals and teachers who can strengthen partnerships with families and communities, and lead collaborative, student-centered schools. 

 Our Solution 

The Liber Institute builds the leadership capacity of teachers and principals to redesign the cultural and instructional practices of schools. Our work is predicated on recognizing the values, knowledge, and culture of a community as strengths, and positioning local educators, students, and families as the architects of transformation. 

The Institute organizes its work in three interwoven strands: a culturally responsive teaching fellowship for teachers, transformational leadership coaching for school leaders, and a liberatory design lab focused on unearthing and incubating local approaches to building more equitable schools and institutions