ASU Online Graduate Program in Indigenous Education Emphasizes Native Hawaiian Education

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By Colin Ben, Ph.D.

“This Indigenous Education program has prepared me to be the best teacher I can be for my Kānaka Maoli students. It has prepared me for my career by showing me how many other Indigenous educators, schools, and academics have implemented their culture into their curriculum, staying true to their cultural norms and obligations while still abiding by state standards,” said Kiliona Palauni, a recent graduate of the online Master of Arts (MA) in Indigenous Education at Arizona State University (ASU).

The Indigenous Education program faculty recognize that Indigenous graduate students are seeking more than just a degree – they are seeking opportunities to build relationships with faculty, mentors, and their peers to engage in scholarship that honors and reflects their Indigenous ways of knowing to strengthen their Indigenous communities.

A partnership between ASU and Kamehameha Schools (KS) developed the Native Hawaiian track of the program to include four courses focused on Kānaka Maoli education. We are excited for the second year of the Native Hawaiian track, which started in Fall 2022. ASU is currently accepting applications for the next cohort of students who will begin in Spring 2023.

The Native Hawaiian track of the program provides students with an opportunity to learn from Hawaiʻi-based kumu, who offer the following courses: History of Indigenous Education, Indigenous Knowledges in Education, Current Issues in Indigenous Education, and Language/Literacy of Indigenous Peoples. Native Hawaiian curriculum will be the foundation of these courses. The remaining six program courses will be taught by program faculty.

Dr. Manuwai Peters who taught History of Indigenous Education commented, “I was able to guide the inaugural class of the Hawaiʻi track to reach new understandings of Hawaiian education from the 19th century onwards up to our most current programs. As an instructor, I was able to tap into new research from so many brilliant Native Hawaiian scholars of today, which was well received by the students. The online format worked very well for the students who were all fully employed in diverse fields in Hawaiʻi and across the US continent.”

In addition to working with Native Hawaiian scholars, students will learn from program faculty whose research and scholarship are focused on culturally relevant and Indigenous-led education. This is a unique opportunity for students to engage in knowledge production with influential scholars in the field of Indigenous education.

“This program has given me a stronger voice in all things Indigenous and has allowed me to take my lessons to a level I never thought possible,” added Palauni. “This program also has given me lifelong friends that continue to support me despite the thousands of miles that separate us. My time at ASU was irreplaceable and I hope all future educators in Indigenous spaces take advantage of this program.” Graduates of the program will be prepared to engage with the lāhui as leaders and advocates for the next generation of kamaliʻi.

The program is unique because it allows students to remain in their Indigenous communities to fulfill their family responsibilities and work commitments while engaging in coursework that revolves around their availability. Program staff and faculty look forward to welcoming a new student cohort for the Native Hawaiian track.

A virtual information session about the program will be held on Nov. 1, 2022 at 4:00 p.m. (HST). To register for the information session, please click here.

For more information about the online MA in Indigenous Education program go to: asuonline.asu.edu/online-degree-programs/graduate/indigenous-education-ma/.

The application deadline is Dec. 1, 2022.


Dr. Colin Ben (Navajo) is an assistant research professor and lead for the Online Master of Arts in Indigenous Education within the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University (ASU). He is also the associate director for the Center for Indian Education at ASU.