GS 554 — Native American Perspectives: Education for Extinction

The beginning of our examination of indigenous perspectives of education included a discussion of information from the text Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience 1875-1928 by David Wallace Adams.

Chris Teuton delivered a myth-challenging “Indians 1491″ lecture. Areas of focus included: indigenous population numbers, intertribal trade, disease and its role in conquest, warfare as a means of conquest or as an indicator of status, patterns of conquest, cultural and linguistic patterns and differentiation between the great number of distinct native nations and tribal bands, indigenous contributions to agriculture, settlement, slavery, linguistic studies, archeology, terminology, migration theories, and indigenous studies.

Explore this link to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

Themes:

  • Reformers with ethnocentric “good intentions” contributing to destruction and alienation due to a fundamental lack of understanding of the intrinsic value of all peoples and cultures.
  • The paradoxical nature of the idea of “progress” as a destructive force.
  • The assumption that a particular value system should apply to everyone.
  • The intentional, calculated, and conscious destruction of groups of people in the name of morality and progress.
  • The accumulation of personal wealth as a moral obligation.
  • The complexity of the relationship between economics and religion.

Questions:

  • How have conceptions of cultural evolution and civilization contributed to a rationalization of the systematized destruction of indigenous people and culture?
  • Does our current education system have any parallels to the government practice of separation intended to “protect” groups from mixing with each other?
  • What echoes of the value system forced upon indigenous people remain central in our culture today?
  • How has the influence of cultural relativism shaped the formation and practices of our public education system?

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