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The 1972 Indian Education Act was the landmark legislation establishing a comprehensive approach to meeting the unique needs of American Indian and Alaska Native students. The unique aspects of the original authority have been retained through subsequent legislative reauthorizing statutes, with the latest revision occurring with the amendments made by the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which reauthorized the program as Title VII Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The Indian Education legislation is unique in the following ways:
It recognizes that American Indians have unique, educational and culturally related academic needs and distinct language and cultural needs;
It is the only comprehensive Federal Indian Education legislation, that deals with American Indian education from pre-school to graduate-level education and reflects the diversity of government involvement in Indian education;
It focuses national attention on the educational needs of American Indian learners, reaffirming the Federal governments special responsibility related to the education of American Indians and Alaska Natives; and
It provides services to American Indians and Alaska Natives that are not provided by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
1969: A Special Senate Subcommittee on Indian Education issues a final report "Indian Education: A National Tragedy - A National Challenge" focusing national attention on the educational situation of American Indian and Alaska Native students.
1972: Indian Education Act enacted. Establishes the Office of Indian Education and the National Advisory Council on Indian Education. The various parts of the Act authorized a formula program and several competitive grant programs for Indian children and adults.
1974: PL 93-380 amends the Act to add a teacher training program and a fellowship program.
1988: PL 100-297 makes BIA funded schools eligible to apply for formula grants. Also creates an authorization for Gifted and Talented education.
1994: PL 103-382 reauthorizes Indian Education as Title IX Part A of ESEA. The formula grants reauthorization is amended to require a comprehensive plan to meet the academic and culturally related academic needs of American Indian and Alaska Native students.
2001: PL 107-110 Indian Education is reauthorized as Title VII Part A of the No Child Left Behind Act. The formula grants are to be based on challenging State academic content and student academic achievement standards that are used for all students and designed to assist Indian students in meeting those standards.