Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy ETDs

Publication Date



Research regarding secondary schooling of Pueblo youth in the southwestern United States is limited. Existing literature examines schooling through boarding school era historical depictions and anthropological studies of school experiences. Current Indigenous academic knowledge calls for rededication to self-determination and tribal control over education systems. This research critically analyzes curricular implications and the operation of power in a New Mexico school district whose Indigenous students exceed one-third of the student population. This study demonstrates long-standing disempowerment of the constituents of this school district through existing hierarchical power structures. This research is based upon qualitative methodologies for gathering and analyzing data, including discourse analysis of legislative policy, secondary curriculum, textbooks and classroom materials. It also utilizes ethnographic data from interviews with students, school personnel and community members, and participant observations. Through 22-months of fieldwork, this study examines responses to the research question: How does state power operate in the inception and implementation of culturally relevant pedagogy at a school district that serves a large population of Native high school youth? Themes emerged throughout the study such as the hidden curriculum embodied in the instruction and policy that affect Native high school students; reception and implementation of policy and curriculum within the school district; and historical factors within the district. The study also presents the foundations for response to imperatives of neo-liberalism throughout the district. The research shows that despite the 2003 passage of state legislation (New Mexico Indian Education Act) regarding appropriate educational practices for American Indian students, the federal mandates of No Child Left Behind shape public schooling. Research participants desire a more direct, formal tie between school and culturally meaningful education, but see standardization and individualization for cultural relevance in competition. This study reveals that every aspect of curriculum in the school district, from inception to implementation, is driven by the inexorable adherence to federal legislation. The data also reveal the implications of this study, which include the need for more local control and community empowerment to influence the curriculum, instruction, and policy within this school district. This research also documents emerging sites of resistance within the school district.


Pueblo Indians--Education (Secondary)--Social aspects, Pueblo Indians--Education (Secondary)--Political aspects, Education and state--United States, Education and state--New Mexico

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Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy

First Committee Member (Chair)

Glenabah Martinez

Second Committee Member

Nancy Lopéz

Third Committee Member

Mary Jiron-Belgarde

Fourth Committee Member

Ruth Trinidad Galván