Indigenous families are often perceived by teachers and school administrators as disinterested and uninvolved in their children’s education. This article aims to complicate that longstanding stereotype. A detailed, qualitative case study of two Native Hawaiian preschool families reveals compelling counterstories of Indigenous parents who are deeply concerned about their children’s education, but are limited in their family-school involvement by a range of (post)colonial, social, psychological, and economic challenges that make it difficult for them to engage with schools in conventional ways. The study raises awareness of the skillful resolve with which Indigenous families employ their limited resources to support their children’s education. It challenges educators and policy makers to imagine creative possibilities for drawing Indigenous families into collaborative activity with contemporary schools.


This research was supported in part by a grant from the Spencer Foundation. Julie Kaomea is a Native Hawaiian and associate professor in the College of Education at the University of Hawai‘i.

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