A sustained movement to ensure that all children have access to quality childcare must acknowledge that different circumstances require different approaches. This is particularly true when looking to provide high-quality, culturally appropriate early childhood opportunities for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children. Too often the needs of tribal communities are an afterthought to Congress and policymakers. Policies that affect AI/AN children and families need to be designed with them at the center. When discussing tribal communities, it is important to note the historical and contemporary injustices facing the AI/AN people of North America who have endured colonization, genocide, and disease as well as forced relocation and removal by the U.S. government.
Despite these traumas, AI/AN people have survived and kept their culture, traditions, and languages intact. To this day, tribal communities continue to resist structural barriers and embody courage, strength, hope, and resiliency. Increased funding and support of tribal early childhood programs can help AI/AN children and families to heal and thrive, in resistance to historical trauma and adversity. This brief summarizes available data about AI/AN children and families and provides an overview of current federal programs supporting these communities.