Indian Education

Utah State Board of Education


Howard Rainer is an accomplished teacher, motivational speaker, poet and photographer.  From such accomplishments in his life, one would think that Howard started life with many rich experiences and financial support and pride.  In fact, he did.

Howard Rainer, Taos/Tewa American Indian began life facing many challenges but he did not recognize the challenges, only the love and support he received from his Grandmother with whom he and his parents lived from an early age.  As with many young Indian children, he became very attached to his grandmother because she accepted him unconditionally and taught him about his heritage.  She taught him that life would bring many challenges and opportunities and it would be up to him to “go and see” to find out what was on the other side of the mountains.  She told him that she would never go but that he would.

Howard recognizes the support that his parents gave to him through their teachings and encouragement, His mother was a teacher and his father a school principal and owner of a trading post.  Howard learned early in life the rich experience of education and the worthiness of hard work.  When his father’s store burned, the very next day Howard and his father began working on another store to provide supplies to the people in the area.  A small thing like a fire did not deter his father from picking up and moving forward and so Howard learned that life will send you challenges and when they come, stand tall and move forward.

In his adult life, Howard has touched the lives of many adults and young students.  He wrote the book “Standing Tall” and uses it as a foundation to teach students that they must learn to be proud, stand tall and move forward.  He does the teaching with humor, love, pride and dignity.  Watching Howard as he goes through the day teaching the students that they can create, and they can do, one wonders how he finds the high energy to continue.  But he does.

Not only is Howard a poet, photographer and author, he also teaches multi-education classes at Brigham Young University and feels so fortunate to be able to reach others through the classes and his work.

Howard promotes beauty in work and nature.  He photographs the animals, birds, mountains and desert.  He finds beauty where others perhaps only see barrenness but through his eyes and his camera others have come to appreciate the environment.

Howard has photographed the majestic eagle and uses the photos to promote strength, courage and pride.  He has photographed the buffalo, our ancestor’s “walking Wall-Mart” he says.  They had everything they needed in the buffalo, it was their basic sustenance. He encourages young adults to look at the eagle and buffalo and imagine what their ancestors endured and appreciate what they have today.

At National Indian Education Association (NIEA) conferences, Howard speaks to packed auditoriums and lecture halls.  The message he brings continues to be the same. “Stand Tall, help yourself, help others and be proud.”  How often can people hear the same thing and never tire of it?  They do not tire of hearing the message he brings. He is so motivating in his presentation, so sincere in his belief that Standing Tall and Looking Good will make you Number One, that he never tires of sending the same message.  It is powerful.

The above information is background for the lesson on Leaders.


  • Grade Level 4   
    6040-01; 02; 05
    6050-01; 02; 05
    6100-01; 02; 04; 05

  • Grade Level 7-8           
    6120-01; 02        United States History

The students will learn that there are leaders of American Indian descent who make a difference in all students’ lives.

Essential Question 1. What factor(s) does a leader possess regardless of the ethnicity or culture?

Compare and contrast Howard Rainer’s life with a leader from another culture.

Learning Strategies
Have students read the background on Howard Rainer.
Discussion in small groups.