Indigenous Educators Empowerment will gather Indigenous data and provide appropriate resources to serve all minorities with a focus on Native American communities and their children in order to confront systemic inequities and uphold trust agreements made with sovereign nations.
Mercedes Krause was born and raised in Las Vegas and is a citizen of the Oglala, Lakota Nation. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and has a master's in Administrative Leadership with a focus on American Indian Education. Krause is also the proud mother of three daughters, has over 15 years of teaching experience in the Clark County School District, and is a co-founder of Indigenous Educators Empowerment. She also holds title roles with the Nevada Minority Affairs Commission, the Clark County Native American Caucus, the Native American Alumni Club at UNLV, the Las Vegas Indian Center, Battle Born Progress, and the Superintendent's Advisory Committee with the Nevada Department of Education. Mercedes is a tireless advocate for pushing forward initiatives that benefit Indigenous peoples and all communities. Currently, she is working to improve data collection for Native American students in Nevada. Counting Indigenous students and making these numbers equitably available, along with other groups, will ensure that eligible Native students have access to proper services. Krause is also collaborating with others to increase Indigenous educator recruitment and retention. She has also been a leader in the fight to advance curriculum that accurately represents Native Americans at the K-12 level in Nevada.
Rata Elmore is an educator, mother, advisor, advocate, and protector of Maori taonga. She is a director of Indigenous Educators Empowerment and collaborates with a number of Indigenous peoples, both in the United States and around the world. For years, Rata has been a powerful ally in the Native American community. Since 2018, she has served as a community member with the American Indian Education Opportunities Program in Clark County School District. She is also the founder of Kiwis in Las Vegas, a grassroots group that connects New Zealanders in culture, values, and community, as they build relationships while living abroad. Rata is an advocate for promoting, protecting, and defending Maori and Indigenous cultures from appropriation - a topic that she has consulted on from the K-12 to collegiate levels. She is also available as a cultural consultant and has experience sharing proper methods and protocols to display Moari culture through both online and in-person informational sessions. Rata understands, and has taught her three sons, that they do not stand on their own whenua (land), but they do walk on Papatuanuku (Mother Earth), so the concerns of Indigenous Americans are also her own.
Lance West has roots with the Walker River Paiute and is an enrolled member of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe. He was raised in Schurz, Nevada, on the Walker River Reservation and is a husband, father, and prominent leader in the community. In many ways, Lance is an epitome of giving back to his local community, as he is now the principal of Schurz Elementary School, where he attended many years ago. He earned his bachelor’s in Secondary Education, with an emphasis in Business Education, and went on to complete his Master’s of Education in Educational Leadership, both degrees from the University of Nevada, Reno. West has nearly twenty years of experience in education, and before making the transition to administration, he was a high school business and technology teacher, where he taught marketing, financial literacy, digital game development, graphic design, web design, and other types of information technology. He also teaches Paiute language and still gets into the classroom, filling in for teachers on leave. Principal West promotes Indigenous culture and philosophies at his school and within the classroom curriculum. As a co-founder of Indigenous Educators Empowerment, he is committed to expanding these approaches statewide to better serve Indigenous students throughout Nevada.