In the United States, state-level Indigenous education policies represent common political tools that generally aim to move extant schooling systems toward increased inclusiveness. Montana’s state law (Indian Education for All (IEFA)) is relatively robust, yet actual implementation is ad hoc and uneven. In this study, we examine a collaborative effort focused on language, namely Séliš (Salish), which has always been systematically excluded from this district. A Séliš language instructor guided a class of non-Indigenous second-grade students through lessons over Zoom while the classroom teacher mediated and co-facilitated the learning activities. A university-based education professor supported the partnership relationally and conceptually. This qualitative study was guided by Indigenous education frameworks and draws upon interviews, emails, and objects/photos as data sources. We investigated educators’ perspectives on the partnership-building process as well as impact. Our findings highlight how the educators came together around intersecting goals, developed curricular experiences, and engaged in complex relational work. Educators reflected on students’ growth in: Séliš proficiency, interest in Indigenous culture, and commitment to learning Séliš as a civic action. Notably, they also experienced joy–relishing in the language alongside peers and educators. This study highlights key school-community-university collaborative practices and curricula that can foster deeper policy implementation.
- education policy
- equity pedagogy
- Indigenous education
- language education
- school-community-university partnerships