Rally to Save Indian Heritage

May 15, 2013 @ 3:30 pm
John Stanford Center for Education
2445 3rd Avenue South
Seattle, WA 98134

Wednesday May 15th at 3:30 pm
John Stanford Center for Education
2445 3rd Ave. S. Seattle, WA 98134

Please come and stand strong for our Native youth! They need us! They are our future…and we need them to know we care for them and their education! Bring signs, drums, and your voice.

Sadly, after nearly 40 years of operation, Seattle Public Schools announced the closure of Indian Heritage Middle College program a.k.a. Indian Heritage High School. In its prime under the leadership of Robert Eaglestaff, Indian Heritage was once a vibrant, visible, robust alternative school serving over 130 Native youth. Indian Heritage’s primary mission was to provide quality Native focused curriculum, Instruction, support services and community engagement to urban Native learners. Heritage was originally dedicated to support the unique academic and cultural needs of our urban Native learners.
Indian Heritage was seeded and started in 1974 as a result of the Indian Education Act of 1972 and with the efforts of many visionary Native community members. It started slowly and grew to a small yet respectable number of students within ten years.

By 1992, the success of Indian Heritage could not be denied. Not only did Indian Heritage graduate every student, but graduates also enrolled in post-secondary or vocational school. Plans were being made to expand the program from a 6-12 grade to K-12. All this changed after the death of Bob Eaglestaff in 1996 and the school was never the same. Indian Heritage High School became Indian Heritage Middle College program in 2000. In 2009, Indian Heritage graduated one Native student from its graduating class of approximately 20 students.

Further deterioration was underway at the hands of district administrators resulting in a complete annihilation of Indian Heritage program. Last year District leadership made the abrupt announcement to eliminate the school and proceeded to reassign Native instructors and students to other sites, effectively cutting the thread binding Native students to the program.

Jose Banda presented a public statement last July 2012 expressing commitment to keep the school intact for another year and commitment to consult with Native community on ‘ next steps’ in consideration of the pending BEX Levy and demolition of the Heritage facilities. The Heritage program in reality became a shell of a program 2012-2013 with digital learning, no Native focused instruction, no Native infused curriculum and a new instructor unfamiliar to Native students, parents, and community. Our proposals and concerns addressing these drastic changes have been ignored.

It is unconscionable that resources continue to be withdrawn from Native programming and services, while SPS acknowledges the statistical facts illustrating disproportionate academic performance, disciplinary action, and highest dropout rates for Native learners. The trajectory for Native learners in SPS is of tremendous concern given the districts decisions to eliminate Heritage and displace current programs functioning at Heritage facilities.

It is at this time we will again initiate and voice opposition with Seattle Public Schools plan to eliminate Indian Heritage. We as a community will again invite SPS to listen to our viable plan for relocating the program until the new site has been completed 2017. We recommend the district commit to re-establishing Indian Heritage back at the new Wilson Pacific site. We will offer testimony before the Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors on May 15th, 2013 to make our intentions known. We ask that the community attend to make a show of support for saving Indian Heritage program. We will hold a rally outside the John Stanford Center for Excellence starting at 3:30 pm on Wednesday May 15th, 2013. Drummers/Singers and Speakers are welcome.

Below is the public statement made by Jose Banda July 2012

Dear Indian Heritage Middle College families,

As most of you know, Seattle Public Schools is seeing an increase in enrollment. To make sure we have enough space for all of our students, we are working on both short-term and long-term capacity issues.

We are considering using the Wilson-Pacific building as the site of a comprehensive new Middle School. In anticipation of that move, we indicated last month that we were moving the Indian Heritage Middle College program to Middle College Mall Academy. However, given the need to look at Middle College as a whole, I have asked staff to hold off on this move so we can engage with you and have a conversation about the program. Middle College will stay at Wilson-Pacific for the 2012-13 school year.

I would like to invite the Native American community to meet with District staff to talk about next steps and the future of the Indian Heritage Middle College, as well as the future of Wilson-Pacific. We know the Wilson-Pacific site serves as an important community meeting space and we want to talk about how we can serve those needs, while balancing our district-wide capacity issues and enrollment growth.

I look forward to working with you as we evaluate our Middle College programs and as we continue to discuss the future of the Wilson-Pacific site.


Jose Banda
José L. Banda, call (206) 252-0180 or email superintendent@seattleschools.org. The mailing address is Office of the Superintendent, MS: 32-150, P.O. Box 34165, Seattle, WA 98124-1165.

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