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In Pursuit of Knowledge

Program Overview

The Native Education Program provides Programs and Services and Cultural Enrichment opportunities for American Indian and Alaska Native students.
  • Academic Coaching
  • Native Clubs for High School
  • Family Enrichment Nights
  • NEP Graduation Ceremony
  • Annual AIAN Celebration
  • Culturally-based Academic Summer School

We also provide family and student advocacy for school meetings, college and scholarship info, as well as mentoring. Our mission is that all students graduate and have a successful life.


Native Ed

S’aamaks Newsletter is here!

(Download Here)

  • Native Summer Education Program
  • Native Summer Education Program
  • Native Summer Education Program
  • Native Summer Education Program
  • Native Summer Education Program
  • Native Summer Education Program
  • Native Summer Education Program
  • Native Summer Education Program
  • Native Summer Education Program
  • Native Summer Education Program
  • Native Summer Education Program
  • Native Summer Education Program

Academic Coaching Now Available Mondays and Wednesdays!

Academic CoachingAcademic Coaching Flier

Students can join through Canvas HERE!

Native Ed in the District News

  • Crater Lake

Indian Education summer school to be held in person in July 2021

May 6, 2021|

The SKPS Indian Education program is planning an in-person summer school this July called: "Voices from the People of the Plateau." This is a summer enrichment program for Indian Education students. 2021 program highlights Cultural themes woven through fun learning activities, with a focus on: Literacy, math, science and geography Virtual wellness activities, crafting and [...]

  • Graphic of Indigenous Storytelling Feb. 25 2021

Indian Education presents indigenous storytelling

February 1, 2021|

Don’t miss our first Virtual Enrichment Night of the school year and the opportunity to hear Savahna Jackson share stories and oratory from the Klamath Basin, followed by Willamette University Professor, Ken Carano’s geographical insights on the region. Indian Education Presents Indigenous Storytelling Featuring: Savahna Jackson Complemented with a geographical presentation by: WOU professor, Ken Carano February [...]

  • Native American Gathering December 2020

Gathering of Native Americans December 11-12, 2020

December 9, 2020|

Healing and wellness in the time of COVID-19The Native Wellness Institute is hosting four different gatherings on Friday evening and two sessions on Saturday, Dec. 11 and 12, 2020. The events are called Gathering of Native Americans (GONA): Healing and Wellness in the Time of COVID.These events are open to all community members.The Gatherings are [...]

  • Indian Education Program Logo

Title VI Indian Education Program Public Forum on December 7, 2020

December 1, 2020|

The Salem Keizer Public Schools Indian Education Program will hold its annual public hearing on December 7, 2020, from 6:30 – 8 p.m. The meeting will take place virtually. We will review the current year’s program, provide information on program performance, and discuss next year’s Title VI grant application. We will also provide an [...]

2022 NEP Graduation Celebration

Native Education students in the graduating class of 2022 at a celebration at North Salem High School on Sunday, May 15, 2022.

2022  Graduation Native Education Graduation Celebration

Since the mid 90’s, the Native Education Program, and Parent Advisory Committee have sponsored this special celebration in honor of Native Education graduates earning a diploma, as well as those earning High School completion and GED.  You can review graduation requirements here.

This year, the Native Education Graduation Celebration took place Sunday May 15th, and was held at the North Salem High School Auditorium in Salem, Oregon.  The formal celebration included a Blessing and singing by Kevin Simmons, color guard, gifting of the graduates, and keynote speakers who were representative of our Native community.  All students are gifted with a handmade heirloom quality Pendleton Wool Graduation Stole, a beaded feather and framed graduation certificate.  Photos of the ceremony are available to download HERE. Additionally, the graduation ceremony will be re-broadcast on Capitol Community Media and a commemorative DVD will be sent to our grads in the Fall.

As part of the ceremony, we acknowledge each student by saying a few words about them.  We ask that grads and parents complete an online Senior biography form to ensure they are properly recognized the form is available as early as March and closes in May every year, if you need a paper form please request one by emailing,

NEP Calendar

Cultural Enrichment

Cultural Enrichment Nights!

Our last Enrichment Night featured special guest Mariah Gladstone,
She developed Indigikitchen, an online cooking platform, a cooking show that teaches traditional Native American recipes to revitalize and re-imagine Native foods, and was tied together with Geography by Dr. Ken Carano.

This was an interactive online ZOOM event that took place April 28th, we are working on making our Enrichment Night recordings available for later viewing.


Enrichment Night w/ Judy Bluehorse Skelton

Our Cultural Enrichment Nights are an opportunity for families to take part in interactive cultural learning activities that combine tribal knowledge and geography with special guest presenters and esteemed geography expert Ken Carano.

Indigenous Storytelling Night!

We came together for the second of this series, on January 27th 2022 with acclaimed author Tim Tingle for a night of storytelling and mysticism!

This was an interactive online ZOOM event! Stay tuned next season!

Storytelling Night January 27th 6pm

Indigenous Storytelling Nights bring the tradition of winter/fall storytelling time to families as we invite indigenous storytellers and keepers to share with us the timeless magic of storytelling and traditional oratory.

AIAN Celebration Poster

2021 AIAN Celebration!

Join us as we ring in Native Heritage Month with the 4th annual American Indian Alaskan Native Celebration, a celebration of Native Arts and Culture. This year we have special guests “Mike Bone” Lil Mike and Funny Bone from the Hulu hit series Reservation Dogs. This virtual event will by guest hosted by Fish Martinez aka 28thaNative. There will be a special Student Art Showcase and other student led activities throughout the evening! Please be sure to fill out the survey below, it will help guide our program for next year!

Watch it here!

The Native Education Program Team!

Meet the NEP Team!

Shelby Maerz

Shelby Maerz

Citizen of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde is the Program Associate for the Native Education Program. She wears many hats, but most importantly ensures the nuts and bolts of the Native Education Program are good and tight. With an expansive knowledge of the Program as a whole and a guide to the NEP Universe, Shelby may just know the answer. We think Kitty Purry would agree.

Shelby Maerz

Flora Gutierrez

Flora is our Senior Secretary, she is the grease on the wheels that keep everything running smooth with the Native Education Program. She ensures that all t’s are crossed and i’s dotted, and is herself a wealth of knowledge. She cares deeply about the students and community we serve and leaves no stone unturned to help in the mission of seeing all students graduate and prepare for a successful life. 

Shelby Maerz

Jennifer Hook

Jennifer is a Citizen of the Mowa Band of Choctaw Indians and is the Recruitment Specialist for Native Education, she helps to ensure all AI/AN Students have access to the programs and services NEP Provides, she works directly with the CRF’s to ensure all of our students are counted. She is hands on when it comes to serving our students and is a great person to talk to about how to get your student involved with NEP.

Cultural Resource Facilitators

The role of Cultural Resource Facilitator is to bridge the gap between students and families of the AI/AN Community and SKPS. We act as a resource for students and families and can act as a conduit for other resources for AI/AN Students, we attend school meetings, IEP’s, parent teacher conferences etc. and assist with getting resources to our High School students (soon to include k-12) through our newly created Native Clubs network. We also work directly with schools and staff to address students needs, we keep track of our students and are there to offer support and guidance along the trail to graduation!

North Salem

(North Salem, McKay feeder system Roberts/Alt Ed)

Che Finch (Mr.Finch)

Citizen of the Willowa Band and Whitebird Band Nimiipuu (Nez Perce Tribe) and Ft. McDermott Northern Paiute, Mr. Finch is an artist, emcee, producer in his own time and serves the North Salem, McKay, and Roberts High Schools and Feeder system as a Cultural Resource Facilitator. 

Shelby Maerz

South Salem

(South Salem, and Sprague High School feeder system.)

Kunu Bearchum

Citizen of the HoChunk Nation, and Northern Cheyenne. Kunu is a performing artist and filmmaker in his spare time and serves the Sprague, and South High Schools and feeder system as a Cultural Resource Facilitator.

Shelby Maerz

West Salem/ Keizer

(West Salem, McNary Highschool feeder system)

Savanna Rilatos

Citizen of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz. Savanna is passionate about Native Youth and is a Native American Studies student, serves the McNary and West High Schools and feeder system as a Cultural Resource Facilitator.

Shelby Maerz

There are many facets to the Native Education Program, and we are committed to ensure that our AI/AN population are counted and given equitable resources in the Salem Keizer Public School system. We invite you to get in touch with any one of us if you have any questions.

Contact Us




Paulus Admin Center
Native Education Program
1309 Ferry St SE
Salem, OR 97301