A Call to All Waldorf Schools and AWSNA leaders

Our kindergarteners move up to the first grade

In Honor of Native American Month

Proposal for Support for Native American Students – A Call for Action

The history of the colonization of the American continents, as we all know, has been built on genocide, broken treaties, and a devastating persecution. Many tribes were eliminated completely, other tribes – those who survived – had to leave their tribal lands, and were forced into reservations, often in an area where survival was difficult or almost impossible, or in a climate and landscape completely different from what they were used to. We are all aware of the tragedy of the Trail of Tears, for example.

Indian Reservations were originally prison camps, and today Native Americans still live on 326 reservations. There are 574 federally recognized tribes in the USA.  Many Native Americans moved to towns or suburbs in the search for work and education, in the hopes of a better life and opportunities. 

This is the situation today, but this is not the end of history for Native Americans.  It continues, and we all are the writers of the story of the future. What we do or do not do will determine the future of our children.

Unfortunately, the American people and government have failed so far to make an effort and find a way to reconcile with and to offer a perspective for a positive future for Native Americans.  Some states, for example Oklahoma, have started to give some of the tribal lands back to their original owners, the tribes. But still, 131 years after the last massacre at Wounded Knee, SD, Indian reservations are among the poorest counties in  the US. Native Americans still struggle and suffer the historical trauma of the historical events and our responsibility to address this trauma has been neglected. With this in mind, we cannot ‘file’ the topic “Native Americans” in a chapter of the past. We must work on solutions and change. It is our responsibility to search and find ways to support Native Americans on their path of healing and recovery. 

What Can Waldorf Schools Do? 

Recently Waldorf schools have started to recognize the original owners of the land occupied by or near to the school, acknowledging by name the original tribe that used to live where that particular Waldorf school is located. This is a good start and gesture, but it refers to the past, assuming the original owners are not in the picture anymore. The recognition states: we know this used to be your land, but we are here now, and we say thank you!  

There remains an open question, what now?  Although these well-meant land acknowledgment statements are welcome, they usually avoid addressing any past wrongdoing and do not yet offer extended hand of reconciliation and restitution.

Something more must follow  a deed. If we recognize that the land our schools are located on was indeed taken unlawfully, we must go into action. 

We are in the age of DEI, but we hardly have any Native American children in our Waldorf Schools. One reason for this is that most of the Native population lives in poverty and cannot afford tuition for a Waldorf school. They live either on reservations or in poor communities, not where most Waldorf schools are located. 

There is only one Waldorf School located on an Indian reservation in the US, the Lakota Waldorf School and this school is operating free of tuition and also offers free nutritious meals to all students.

Let not November be just one month when we honor Native Americans. Let us begin to work and implement a plan to include Native American students in our Waldorf Schools.  

Our proposal is to open all Waldorf Schools to Native American students and waive tuition fees.  Along with our recognition that we occupy a tribal land, would this not be an appropriate gesture of reconciliation? 

Tuition-free Waldorf schooling would not mean that Waldorf schools would be overrun by Native American students. It would merely allow the possibility of a better education for a few children. It would mean a path of healing offered to those we owe so much.  Waldorf education is more than teaching, it is a healing pedagogy, and therefore has enormous potential to bring healing and a positive future to the Native Americans children. As Waldorf Schools we must strive to serve all children, and in view of our nation’s history, Waldorf schools are called on to make a move toward reconciliation, toward reparation that goes further than words, but is action and deeds.

We truly hope Waldorf Schools are open and willing to face this issue and work out an action plan.  We owe it to our Native Americans, and this would be an exemplary gesture for the rest of the country.


The question will arise as to who is eligible to join a Waldorf school as a Native American. There are 574 federally or state recognized tribes in the USA, and there are more than 200 tribes that are not federally recognized.

Every Native American must be registered at the tribe of his or her origin. Tribal constitutions determine the criteria for an individual’s tribal enrollment. Registered tribal members receive a tribal ID. This tribal ID is commonly used to identify a tribal member and could be used as a means for eligibility to join a Waldorf school.

In the case of tribes that are not federally recognized, it would be the decision of the specific Waldorf school to decide how to work with eligibility. 

Waldorf schools would have to look for grants and other sources of funding to cover the tuition for Native students; there are many possibilities.

If AWSNA and all Waldorf schools would launch this plan of action on behalf of Native American students, it would demonstrate to the rest of the country and to the world how true and meaningful reconciliation with Native Americans could begin. It would demonstrate how we as a Waldorf community are taking responsibility for the consequences of history of the last 500 years and are bringing a plan of action onto the stage.

It would be important to publicize such a plan–that Waldorf schools throughout the country open their doors to all Native American children who wish to attend a Waldorf School free of tuition, because we are sitting on their lands, which we recognize were taken wrongfully. 

This would be an exemplary paradigm and could serve as a model and inspiration for other organizations or programs to create new paths for reconciliation in action. 

November 2021
For the faculty of the Lakota Waldorf School, 
Land of the Oglala Lakota Sioux Tribe

Isabel Stadnick, Administrator 
Lakota Waldorf School
Pine Ridge Indian Reservation
Three Mile Creek Road
PO Box 527
Kyle, SD 57752

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