Native American Education Program - A Partnership with Sumner-Bonney Lake School District


Did you know?

Some students go the entire year without learning about Native American culture.  PSESD’s program teaches Native students how science and technology are woven into their culture’s past and present and how this connection can help shape their future.


For more than 25 years, Puget Sound Educational Service District’s Native American Education Program (NAEP) has partnered with the Sumner-Bonney Lake School District to serve more than 200 students and families of Native American heritage from 50 different tribes across the United States.  Our program has worked to honor them all and to vary lessons about the many different regions, tribes, and traditions.  The program is cooperatively funded by the Office of Indian Education (U.S. Department of Education), the Boeing Company, and the Sumner-Bonney Lake School District.

Our Native American Education Program builds lasting, meaningful relationships with students from elementary school through graduation, letting students know their Native heritage is seen and honored.  The program’s direct-service and cultural support is provided by a coordinator who visits up to twice a month at each school.  The program reaches out to parents via ongoing staff emails with donations and related outreach, and regular updates every two months.  We also provide an e-newsletter for easy review and sharing.

At the district level, NAEP supports teachers, counselors, and administrators to provide resources on culturally appropriate Native curriculum; strategies on how to support students with Native heritage; and support for developing policies and protocols that include Native student, family, and community voice. 

Our Native American Education Program provides direct service and regular, ongoing cultural lessons to engage students about Native American history, culture, and contemporary issues while teaching them to think about and question their place within it.  Parents and community are a welcome part of the program with assorted lessons including Navajo weaving, salmon lifecycles, hydro-electric dams, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers, Native American storytelling, books by Native authors, college, career, and scholarship support, and culturally related handcrafting such as beading, loom weaving, and more.

In 2021, the NAEP program included 14 schools, with 223 student participants. Activities included family nights with powwow dance classes, exhibits at the district’s STEM Fair, and Native Student Day at the Puyallup Tribal Youth Center for elementary students.  During the height of the COVID pandemic, outreach included Google interactive classroom lesson sharing, cultural worksheets for elementary families, family videos, monthly culture packets, and weekly Zoom group visits.  Upon return to the physical classroom, the Sumner-Bonney Lake Native American Education Program was chosen by the Seattle Seahawks to be part of their community Legion of Youth program.

In June 2021, all 15 seniors in the program graduated, with many honored with a ceremonial blanket as traditional in many Native cultures.

Image of NAEP senior graduate with a graduation ceremonial blanket
PSESD Native American Education Program staff members and student
PSESD Native American Education Program family night with powwow dance class
PSESD Native American Education Program STEM fair
Image of Native American literature books
PSESD Native American Education Program staff member