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The 1972 Indian Education Act was the landmark legislation establishing a comprehensive approach to meeting the unique needs of American Indian and Alaska Native students. The unique aspects of the original authority have been retained through subsequent legislative reauthorizing statutes, with the latest revision occurring with the amendments made by the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which reauthorized the program as Title VII Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The Indian Education legislation is unique in the following ways:

  1. It recognizes that American Indians have unique, educational and culturally related academic needs and distinct language and cultural needs;

  2. It is the only comprehensive Federal Indian Education legislation, that deals with American Indian education from pre-school to graduate-level education and reflects the diversity of government involvement in Indian education;

  3. It focuses national attention on the educational needs of American Indian learners, reaffirming the Federal government's special responsibility related to the education of American Indians and Alaska Natives; and

  4. It provides services to American Indians and Alaska Natives that are not provided by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

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1972 legislation establishing a approach to meeting needs of American Indian and Alaska Native students and still continues to this day.

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