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Name: Silverthorne, Joyce
Current Position: Director

Since September 2011, the nation’s lead official on issues of Native American education has been Joyce A. Silverthorne, who succeeded Jenelle Leonard, the acting director since August 2010. Located in the Department of Education, the Office of Indian Education is responsible for supporting local educational agencies, Indian tribes and organizations to meet the academic needs of American Indians and Alaska Natives.


A self-described “air force brat,” Silverthorne was born circa 1947 and grew up at various Air Force bases around the world. Her mother, a full-blood enrolled member of the Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas, and her father, an enrolled member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation, Montana, met in Washington, D.C.


In 1977, Bachelor of Arts degree in business education at the University of Montana and a

masters degree in secondary education administration in 1990, also from the University of Montana. She completed all work except a dissertation for a doctorate in Education at Gonzaga University in 2004.


A certified teacher and administrator, Silverthorne taught at Two River Eagle School and she taught and worked as a manager of the bilingual education personnel training program at Salish Kootenai College.


An enrolled member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Joyce Silverthorne was director of the Tribal Education Department for the Tribes from 1999 to 2007, and served two years as Montana Education Superintendent Denise Juneau’s P-20 Education (i.e., preschool to college) policy advisor starting in December 2008. She also served as a gubernatorial appointee to the Montana Board of Public Education for 10 years.


Silverthorne is a mother of four children and a grandmother.

-Matt Bewig


Official Biography

Language Preservation and Human Resources Development (by Joyce A. Silverthorne)

Talks on Video by Silverthorne

Joyce Silverthorne: Prejudice is an Equal Opportunity Problem (by Israel Tockman and Alice Tejkalová, Common Ground)

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