Seattle Public Schools


American Indian Studies

American Indian is the legal term for the federally recognized tribes that reside within the U.S. Unlike other American ethnic groups, federally recognized tribes and nations engage in “government-to-government relationships” with federal, state, and local governments.

American Indians are not ethnic groups

Unlike Asian Americans, African Americans, and Latinx communities, we are in treaty relationships with the United States. This treaty relationship alone necessitates a clearer distinction. This also helps explain why American Indians had such different needs during the civil rights era — we sought a measure of separation from the US mainstream political culture, not assimilation relative to exercising the civil liberties of this nation. – Dr. Joshua Reid (University of Washington, History, American Indian Studies)
…American Indians do not form an ethnic group, they are composed of thousands of independent nations, communities, and cultures that have very different and specific identities.
Indian country is more like the multitude of nations that form the United Nations than a shared ethnicity. The concept of ethnicity oversimplifies American Indian identities and homogenizes the cultural, political, and diversity of American Indian identities.
-Champagne, Duane. “The Term ‘American Indian,’ Plus Ethnicity, Sovereignty, and Identity.”, Indian Country Today, 16 June 2014.

2023 land acknowledgment in English and Southern Lushootseed with photo of canoes

Since Time Immemorial: Tribal Sovereignty in Washington State

All K – 12 Seattle Public School social studies teachers are required to teach Since Time Immemorial: Tribal Sovereignty in Washington State (STI) at every grade, K – 12 and implement in their classrooms according to district policies: 

Since Time Immemorial logo

Modifications & Required State Collaboration

School districts shall collaborate with OSPI on curricular areas regarding tribal government and history that are statewide in nature, such as the concept of tribal sovereignty and the history of federal policy towards federally recognized Indian tribes.

For SPS Staff

All curriculum for Since Time Immemorial, district and state requirements for teaching STI, enrichment resources, and registration for upcoming professional development can be found in our American Indian Studies Schoology Course (login required)

Public Resources

Other Resources: