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Educating the Indian, Part 2 (L20) Day Schools. Dr. Anton Treuer Bemidji State University. How they worked. Regular school routine during day, kids live at home with parents No uniforms, no school control over home life

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Educating the indian part 2 l20 day schools

Educating the Indian, Part 2 (L20)Day Schools

Dr. Anton Treuer

Bemidji State University

How they worked
How they worked

  • Regular school routine during day, kids live at home with parents

  • No uniforms, no school control over home life

  • Still a strict English-only policy: tribal language use often punished or resulting in learning disability label

  • Kids sometimes suspended for long hair, policy changes come slowly, attitude changes even more slowly

Whose heroes
Whose Heroes?

  • Washington

  • Lincoln

  • Grant

  • Jackson

  • Architects of American democracy

  • Constitution, rule of law

  • Indian killers

  • Architects of removal policy & genocide

  • Broken treaties

Bering strait
Bering Strait

  • Fact v. Theory

  • How does it feel to be told that your culture, your parents and grandparents are consistently wrong?


  • Schools provide many opportunities to learn about white culture, history, heroes

  • How many opportunities are presented to learn about native culture, history, heroes?

  • Is there any wonder that there is a disconnect for many native students?

  • How different are day schools from boarding schools?

George bush sr
George Bush, Sr.

  • “We are approaching a momentous year in history, a year that will mark the five hundredth anniversary of one of the greatest achievements of human endeavor: Christopher Columbus' discovery of the New World... Christopher Columbus not only opened the door to a New World, but also set an example for us all by showing what monumental feats can be accomplished through perseverance and faith. I strongly encourage every American to support the Quincentenary, and to discover the significance that this milestone in history has in his or her own life.”

Ronald reagan
Ronald Reagan

  • “We were wrong to let Indians have reservations, we should have done more to bring them into the fold of American life.”

Resisting education assimilation
Resisting Education Assimilation

  • Drop out is not just from lack of smarts or motivation

  • Often lack of participation in education goes across the age spectrum in Indian communities

  • 1945, 8 Indian high school grads in MN

  • 1970, 32% Indians grad high school, 2% grad college

  • 1980, 55% Indians grad high school, 5% college

  • Better and better every decade

  • Indians still 4X more likely to drop out and 3X more likely to be suspended

Politics power in education
Politics & Power in Education

  • Jerry-mandering reservations in school districting (Leech Lake)

  • Few native teachers and administrators

  • Few educated Indians to work in schools as teachers or administrators

  • Little native control of the curriculum: textbooks, language & culture offerings as electives or part of the mainstream curriculum

Tribal initiatives
Tribal Initiatives

  • Changing attitudes, awareness of the benefits of education, NIEA, MIEA

  • Advocacy, JOM funding

  • New tribal schools, culture based curriculum, HOE in Minneapolis has more native grads than all other schools in the metro combined

  • Trying to make schools places where kids can learn about themselves as well as the world


  • Finding qualified staff

  • Tribal politics, micromanagement

  • Attitudinal change comes slowly – developing an educating ethic

  • Making sure that schools don’t assimilate

  • Problems pervade Indian communities


  • Germans still wrestle with national guilt over the Holocaust – addressed in part by mandated instruction about it

  • America has dark chapters in its history too, but we have yet to assume national responsibility for them much less make them right

Tribal language immersion schools
Tribal Language Immersion Schools

  • Waadookodaading (Hayward, WI)

  • Niigaane (Bena, MN)

  • Hawaiians, Maori, Piegan, Mowhawk