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The History of Native American Education and Its Impact on Native Students Today
Transcript of The History of Native American Education and Its Impact on Native Students Today
Source: (American Indian Education Foundation @ (www.nrcprograms.org)) The current educational policy of the Native American Schools has improved somewhat. Now, after years worth of lobbying in the late 1980s and early 1990s, they were granted a take-back of their education, including the historical buildings that they took place in. Even through the triumphs of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s, a previous lack of funding, and full on attempt to assimilate them into the white world, has shown that “years of struggle (has taken a) toll on students. Today, only 17% of Native American high school graduates begin college. Of these, only one in five makes it through the academic, emotional, and financial stresses of the first year.” (www.nrcprograms.org) A reintroduction of tribal identity has become a priority for many people of the reservations, and poverty has stricken many of them so that finishing college becomes less of an importance, and taking care of their people as a unit becomes a strong form of identity education. Today, in 2013, the native children are beginning to get their sense of identity back, but they are still assimilated. Our world of education has grown to include them. This is a direct result of an action taken in 1998, when “President Clinton held a two-day conference on building economic self-determination in Indian communities. During the conference the Executive Order on American Indian and Alaskan Native Education was signed. The six goals of the order are to:
1. improve reading and mathematics
2. increase high school completion and post secondary attendance rate
3. reduce the influence of long standing factors that impede educational performance, such as poverty and substance abuse
4. create strong, safe, and drug-free school environments
5. improve science education
expand the use of educational technology”
(American Indian Education Foundation @ (www.nrcprograms.org)) Many of us Americans have native blood flowing within us. The ancestors they honor, are often our ancestors as well. Before the establishment of the United States of America as a country, many tribes were not only very advanced in their government structures, such as the Cherokee (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qalhDKLrWEQ) and the Iroquois. The natives lived sustainably for many years before the Europeans ever invaded and settled. There is so much that they can teach us so that the future of our entire country can be as sustainable as possible. The best policy for Native Americans to face from their reservations is to provide them with a chance to better blend in with the growing United States, but now it is time that they can teach the rest of the nation. In New Mexico, a monthly journal called Green Fire Times that is linked with news about native, green, and sustainable education and businesses. (http://greenfiretimes.com) An endeavor such as this, links to the local colleges, universities, businesses, homes, and local outreach programs. The ancestors can be inspirational to our future. Introducing vocational programs that are teaching youth, are encouraging not only careers, but showing an increased number of graduates. It gives confidence to all youth that they can be true equals in the world. We have to share the responsibility by not only including Native Americans into mainstream education, but also realizing that there is more to the natural world, as well as cross-generational education which is a part of their education. Young ones can be inspired by the wisdom of the elders, and taught traditional ways, and the elders can be helped out by the strength and vibrancy of the youth. This is the key to results. Native Education Before White Settlers 100 years ago, the Native Americans started to be assimilated into the white world. Their tribes had been fought against, and their numbers were dwindling. Those that did not comply with the new settlers and their new governments were killed off, and those that survived ended up being scared by what they saw and forced onto reservations that were not their native lands. Children were forced into schools, their hair was cut, and where they were given Christian names, and taught about the stories and teachings of the Bible. They were not allowed to speak their native languages in school or to each other. The Beginnings of Native American Education: Assimilation and Loss of Identity Current Educational Goals The Legal Core “The United States of America entered into over 370 treaties with various Indian nations over the course of its history from 1778 through 1871. These treaties created trust responsibilities for the federal government with the Indian people, just as it is included agreements that the federal government would provide education, health, technical, and agricultural services to the tribes.” The unfortunate part about this history, is the fact of many parts of the treaties being broken, or completely ignored in part or entirety. Because of this, the reservations became the only place for tribal laws to be effective for tradition. From the middle 1800s on, with schools such as the one in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, were established as non-reservation boarding schools to “civilize” native children into the white society. As a result, “parents and students resisted the non-reservation schools and most Indian students did not assimilate into white society. When Francis Ellington Leupp became Indian Commissioner in 1905, he worked to re-orient Indian policy. He believed assimilation should be a gradual process. While the general policy of the non-reservation schools actually changed very little over the next 20 years, a greater emphasis was placed on day schools after 1900”. (American Indian Education Foundation @ (www.nrcprograms.org)). However, the full day school policy emphasis was not completely adopted nor officially offered for all tribes and the Bureau of Indian Affairs until the 1950s. A historical example of this is in a book originally written for children in the 1950s, called “The Little Boys With Three Names”, by Anne Nolan Clark. It told of the summer-only adventured of a Taos Pueblo boy. 300 Years of Conflict Before White Settlers began to move west and south, and take over native land for homes, resources and business, the Native Americans had an open land policy. Education was passed on through oral tradition and Elders were a part of the education of a child. A strong tie to the natural world around them was a common tradition, and educational experience. The Civil Rights Movement and Its Influence on Native American Education Was it the best policy for Native Americans to face years worth of boarding schools away from their reservations to provide them with a chance to better blend in with the growing United States, or should they have been left to traditional education? The History of Native American Education and Its Impact Upon Native Students Today Branching the Traditions of Today and Yesterday The traditions for grandparents and elders as teachers to the youngest members of the tribe has returned to many native cultures. Through this, traditions are being passed on, and identity of the native people is being restored. Many old Indian Schools are now being converted to cultural centers for all the people of all ages to learn about their traditions and gather for meetings. Today, schools are blended, with native students from the reservations, as well as the other cultures and races from surrounding communities. It is most often the case that the school is off of the reservation, and native students have to leave the reservation to go to school. Some schools that have high numbers of Native American students as attendants sometimes have classes or supplements to classes teaching the local native language. New Mexico is one of many states that teaches the native languages to children as a choice open to all students, and not just those who are Native American. It is an educational policy that, since the civil rights movement, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin is prohibited. (United States Senate Committee of the Judiciary: http://www.judiciary.senate.gov)). President Lyndon Johnson appointed the first Native American commissioner of Indian Affairs, Robert Lofollette Bennett in 1966.(www.nrcprograms.org)) The 1972 Indian Education Act has put the education of native Americans in their hands, though the entire fund for it had been dwindled down to a single dollar. It had to be rebuilt from the bottom up, and if it was not for the blending of the cultures, many native students would not have a chance at an education. Because of the fact that the schools that most natives attend or off of reservations, it is up to the youth to be educated by their tribes outside of schools. These traditions are often kept only with the tribe's people. This is done for good reason, because of the history of forced assimilation and boarding schools. There is a full history of theft, discrimination, ignorance, and a lack of government listening that has negatively affected the education levels of the majority of natives, to where only 17 % graduate high school, and of that, only 1 in 5 makes it through the first year of college. If this trend continues, there will be less of a chance for the Native American culture to be able to represent itself as equals in any doorway. For acceptance, it will have to take an license of both native and mainstream education methods. Can Native Students Be Saved? http://books.google.com/books/about/Little_boy_with_three_names.html?id=_m4wmsfoA3YC (Image retrieved from American Indian Education Foundation @ (www.nrcprograms.org)) (Image retrieved from American Indian Education Foundation @ (www.nrcprograms.org))