Since 2018, the Economic Education team at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis has been committed to providing tribal nations and Native communities across the country with free personal finance and economic education programming.
This year, the St. Louis Fed formally established an economic education program specifically focused on Native Americans as part of our broader diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. This effort is led by Megan Cruz, a senior economic education specialist and a member of the Osage Nation.
According to Economic Education Assistant Vice President Mary Suiter, “The first tribe we partnered with was the Osage Nation of Oklahoma. It was especially symbolic, as the St. Louis Fed resides on the ancestral homeland of the Osage people. Megan initiated this outreach and continues to lead this important work,” Suiter said.
“As we continue increasing our outreach efforts, we look forward to growing our existing partnerships and developing new ones throughout Indian Country,” Suiter added.
Since the initial collaboration with the Osage Nation, the St. Louis Fed has partnered with over 15 tribal nations throughout the country—including the third and fourth largest tribes.
The program also emphasizes incorporating Native language and culture within the economic and financial education resources.
According to Cruz, “Historical federal Indian policy attempted to eradicate Native languages and cultures. As a result, culture and language preservation are significant priorities for tribal nations. We try to ensure our resources can be adapted to include these important components.”
The St. Louis Fed’s Economic Education program offers a wide range of curricula for grades K-12. There are also many opportunities within a tribal nation’s youth programs to include these resources.
“For Native youth, many of whom lack opportunities to develop financial skills, investing in this type of education can offer significant returns for Native communities. Not only can it benefit the individual students and their families, but it can also help develop youth to be future leaders and employees—preparing them to better manage tribal assets and make important financial decisions,” Cruz said.
In celebration of Native American Heritage Month, the St. Louis Fed hosted a variety of events with tribal leaders in November to better educate employees across the Federal Reserve System on topics important to Indian Country. Guest speakers included Principal Chief David Hill of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and Kim Teehee of the Cherokee Nation.
Cruz added, “As the original indigenous peoples of the United States, Native American issues should be significant to all Americans. I hope the events we hosted in November spark an interest to continue to seek out opportunities to understand their perspectives and experiences beyond Native American Heritage Month.”
The St. Louis Fed’s Economic Education website offers more than 400 lesson plans, podcasts, videos, readings, PowerPoint slides and SMARTboard activities for pre-K through college classrooms to teach economics and personal finance. Teachers can use these in a virtual environment using the Econ Lowdown teacher portal, Google Classroom or Canvas by Instructure. In 2019, our Economic Education team received the Central Banking Award for financial inclusion for engaging and supporting teachers around the world.