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Lessons of our Round Valley Land

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Lessons of our Round Valley Land


Round Valley Unified School District has made a commitment to include Native American curriculum into each grade level. Seventy-five percent of the students at RVUSD are Native American, most of which are members of the Round Valley Indian Tribe. The Round Valley Indian Tribe reservation is located near the school and the school is working in cooperation with the Tribal Council in researching and implementing Native American appropriate curriculum within the school day.


The Indian Land Tenure Curriculum, located at www.iltf.org, provided a grant to RVUSD to support implementation and integration of the Indian Land Tenure Curriculum in each class.  RVUSD has attempted to localize some of the lessons to reflect local tribal stories and land tenure history, along with the local environment.

The Indian Land Tenure Curriculum has been designed to help teachers educate students about one of the most important treasures: land. Indian ownership and stewardship of land is fundamental to Indian culture, tribal sovereignty, community well-being, and economic strength. The curriculum was designed specifically with Native American tribal issues and values in mind, but the context illustrates the important relationship between land and people in general, not just Native Americans. Whether you teach on an Indian reservation or in an urban school with students from many ethnic backgrounds, you will find lessons that we be valuable to students of a variety of heritages. The main goal of the curriculum, however, is for Indian students to become intellectually reconnected to the land and aware of its importance to their past, present and future as American Indians.

The Indian Land Tenure Curriculum is designed to give educators a great deal of flexibility in incorporating lessons about Indian Land Tenure into pre-existing curriculum.  The lessons are structured to allow K-8 teachers to integrate age-appropriate lessons into a variety of subject-specific classes.  

The lessons within each grade level group are grouped according to the following content areas, or what we have termed "standards" in this curriculum.

  1. American Indian traditional land values.
  2. American Indian land tenure history.
  3. Contemporary American Indian Land issues.
  4. Building a positive future for Indian communities through the land use and stewardship.

Curriculum Standards
The following standards make up the core of this Indian land tenure curriculum. They are designed to provide a meaningful context for native students in which they are more apt to learn about history, culture, language, civics, and the natural sciences.

Standard One: American Indian traditional land values

Objective: Students will demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of traditional American Indian land values that formed the foundation for Indian cultural identity, sense of place, and survival.

This first standard considers traditional Native American land values. The survival of American Indian tribal societies is dependent upon their abilities to know and retain special connections to their homelands. The origin stories and related cultural practices that create unique tribal identities are often based upon particular places, land-related incidents or the use of specific natural resources and materials. Many tribal societies that were heavily dependent upon and sustained by their lands are seeking to restore that relationship in order to strengthen their communities.

Standard Two: American Indian land tenure history

Objective: Students will demonstrate a knowledge of key events in American Indian history and how these events relate to the current land tenure of American Indian tribes and individuals.

Modern Indian land tenure is a result of centuries-long history between natives and their colonizers. Huge native land losses were a result of warfare, displacement, assimilation, broken treaties, tax lien foreclosures, congressional diminishment, executive orders, forced evictions, illegal settlement by non-natives and illegitimate sales. Furthermore, highly complex relationships between the federal government, tribal governments, and state governments have evolved, created by treaties, legislation, executive orders and court decisions. All of this has had an enormous impact on modern Indian land tenure, which cannot be fully understood without an understanding of the history of American Indian colonization. In addition to exploring the history of domestic colonization and subsequent changes in land tenure, principles of European colonization are further explored in relation to indigenous homeland losses in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Africa and South America.

Standard Three: Contemporary American Indian land issues

Objective: Students will be able to discuss issues presently affecting American Indian lands and the ability of tribal nations to exercise sovereign powers over those lands.

The third standard grapples with a variety of issues concerning Indian land that are relevant today. The evolution of federal Indian land policy has created a special “trust relationship” with American Indian tribal nations and the lands they occupy. This trust relationship has created a complex set of issues that must be thoroughly understood by Indian communities in order for them to effectively exercise their sovereign powers and prevent further land loss, regain lost lands, realize benefits from good land stewardship and revitalize traditional connections to the lands. Contemporary issues include continued land losses but also successful land claims and acquisitions, land management issues, jurisdictional conflict, natural resource disputes, and the protection of sacred sites.

Standard Four: Building a positive future in Indian communities

Objective: Students will explore how a return to American Indian traditional land values can help correct the effects of decades of land loss.

The final standard looks to what Indian communities should consider as they work toward a successful future in managing their lands. Indians have had their lands severely diminished and, in many cases, they have been moved great distances from their original homelands. This diminishment and displacement has had significant impacts on tribal culture, clan and social structure, traditional education, languages and overall tribal health. Tribal nations are finding the means of asserting their sovereign status and taking steps to correct some of the harm to their tribal societies and their land bases. This assertion can include acquisition of lost lands, halting the erosion of Indian land base, restoration of traditional land values and development of sustainable land-based tribal economies.

You can read more about this curriculum at www.iltf.org.  

Go to Resources, then on drop down menu, Land Tenure Curriculum.

Round Valley Unified School DistrictHoward and High Streets

PO Box 276Covelo, CA  95428707-983-6171

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