- PHD Candidate, Education, Culture and Society Department, University of Utah
Clara Bedonie is an American Indian (Dine/Navajo) educator with a background in, elementary education, American Indian education, bilingual education, Indigenous language teaching, Indigenous teacher training and mentoring, and advocacy for Indigenous language reclamation, revitalization and maintenance. She is currently a doctoral candidate in the Education, Culture and Society (ECS) department and teaches for the ECS, Special Education and the Ethnic studies departments at the University of Utah. She received her B.S. degree in elementary education from Brigham Young University and there after returned to her home town of Tuba City, AZ to work for the Tuba City Public School (TCPS) on the Navajo Indian reservation. Ms. Bedonie taught Navajo as a second language (NSL) in the TCPS for many years where she taught Dine/Navajo language in the K-5th grades in self-contained and enrichment classrooms at the TCPS in Tuba City, AZ. Prior to teaching for the University of Utah she taught Bilingual Multi- Education (BME) courses for Northern Arizona University while working as a mentor teacher for the Learning In Beauty Project where she worked with Dine Masters students in Flagstaff, Arizona. She worked in training graduate bilingual Dine teachers through the Learning In Beauty Project at N.A.U. for 5 years. Ms. Bedonie received her Masters in Education at the University of Utah in 1996 and returned to the University of Utah in 2003 to work for the American Indian Teacher Training Program (AITTP). She worked for the American Indian Teacher Training Project at the University of Utah for 4 years where she mentored pre-service American Indian teachers in the AITTP. Currently, Ms. Bedonie teaches courses in bilingual education, teacher education for ECS and Ethnic studies courses at the University of Utah. As a doctoral student she is studying education at many levels (elementary and college levels), with a specific interest in Indigenous epistemologies and Indigenous language teaching and language revitalization efforts. In her research Ms. Bedonie is interested in locating, identifying and finding ways to improve the teaching, learning and relearning of Indigenous languages and culture by way of incorporating Indigenous epistemologies in schools, because these parts of teaching and learning Indigenous languages and cultures are often left off in schooling for Indigenous students. It is important to incorporate and anchor self-esteem and resiliency skills for American Indian students in that which they are required to learn and acquire mainstream educational tools of a modern education to assist them in navigating and negotiating white mainstream educational systems. It is also important to find ways to incorporate Indigenous epistemologies in modern educational institutions to improve the learning and academic success of Indigenous student populations at all levels. Research has shown over and over again that Indigenous students who are grounded and rooted in their language and culture are the most successful in their formal educational experience.