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culturally responsive education: a living reference

Today’s youth are at the intersection of navigating climate change, political change, and social change, and are poised to carry us forward into a sustainable and equitable future.

To do this, they need support and resources that affirm their identity, value their culture, and help them believe that they can have a positive effect on the world. They need a culturally responsive education.

The Climate Science Alliance is committed to engaging meaningfully and respectfully with the Indigenous peoples that we work with through all our initiatives and programming, including our Climate Kids programming. We strive to integrate Tribal knowledges and perspectives into our educational materials, center Indigenous representation, and continue listening and learning.

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what is culturally responsive education?

The Alaska Native Knowledge Network developed a set of standards to guide a culturally responsive education, which they describe as:

“These "cultural standards" are predicated on the belief that a firm grounding in the heritage, language, and culture indigenous to a particular place is a fundamental prerequisite for the development of culturally-healthy students and communities associated with that place”

An Education that Affirms Students Identities and Empowers Indigenous Youth:

  • Is place-based

  • Engages the community 

  • Acknowledges historical, social, and emotional context of learning 

  • Represents and affirms a diverse set of cultures, identities, and experiences

At the Climate Science Alliance, we take these values to heart and integrate these tenets into our Climate Kids program. We are always learning and are grateful to our partners for their willingness to work collaboratively to support youth now and for the next seven generations.

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To understand the need for a culturally responsive education, it is important to understand the history of colonialism in our education system.

Below are a few examples to get you started:

Land Grab Universities

“Nearly 11 million acres of Indigenous land. Approximately 250 Tribal nations. Over 160 violence-backed treaties and land seizures. Fifty-two universities. Discover the bloody history behind land-grant universities.” - High Country News

Boarding Schools

Generations of Native children were impacted by the boarding school system: countless unnamed deaths, abuse, violence, and cultural genocide were committed via the United States’ education system. Many survivors are still alive, and the impacts of generational trauma are still felt.

“The Federal Indian boarding school system deployed militarized and identity-alteration methodologies to assimilate American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian people—primarily children—through education.”


Much of our history and science are taught through a white colonial lens that glorifies early settler colonists, erases Indigenous histories and knowledge, and portrays Indigenous people as people of the past.

culturally responsive climate education

Decolonizing your educational space is a step that you can take towards a more inclusive and historically accurate curriculum and incorporating multiple ways of knowing into climate education.

Some Steps to Take:

Begin by acknowledging whose ancestral homelands you are on, and having conversations with your students about the history and significance of the land. 

Invite Native practitioners to your space, treat them with respect, and compensate them for their time and knowledge. 

Teach about history and science from multiple perspectives, and highlight leaders and philosophies from Indigenous and other diverse cultures.

Integrate local community activities and values into teaching practices.

Integrate place-based knowledges into your lessons about the environment.

Invite your students to share their experiences and cultures. 

Alaska Standards for Culturally Responsive Schools

Alaska Native Knowledge Network & University of Alaska, Fairbanks

Guide to Implementing Alaska Standards for Culturally Responsive Schools for Educators

Alaska Native Knowledge Network & University of Alaska, Fairbanks

Honoring the Whole Student Curriculum and Workbook

Native American Institute, Michigan State University

Learning Activities

Indigenous STEAM

Decolonization is Not a Metaphor

Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang

American Indians in Children’s Literature

Dr. Debbie Reese of Nambé Pueblo


Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching

California Department of Education

Native Stem Maker Program

California Indian Museum and Cultural Center

Native Ways of Knowing Micro-Courses

CA Indian Education for All

Classroom Resources

CA Indian Education for All

 southern california specific resources

This resource guide is a living reference document and will continue to be updated.


Special thank you to the Climate Science Alliance Tribal Working Group for reviewing this resource.

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