Diana Lee King: Education system keeps Indian history under wraps

U.S. Army general Richard Henry Pratt is seen here with an Indian boarding school student , circa 1880. Pratt was the founder of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School and advocated the Kill the Indian -- Save the Man approach to the education of Indian children. Photo from U.S. Military Institute, U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center, Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Why isn't Indian history taught in schools? Diana Lee King, an educator from the White Earth Nation, advocates for a new approach for Indian children:
If you are an educator of Indian children it is important that you know who these children are, what are American Indian values and how Indian children may learn! I have been an educator for 47 years. I have worked in schools on and off the reservation, I have found that there is very little taught, to this day, in most public schools about Indians. Most textbooks are void of anything about Indians. People are filled with stereotypes of what Indians are, be it savage or stoic. Many of these stereotypes come from the movies. Many Indian people have been so thoroughly stripped of their identity by reservation life and the boarding schools, that they, too, have subliminally accepted many of these stereotypes.

American history books begin with a man named Columbus claiming that he had discovered a new world and that it now belonged to the Queen. There is never any mention of what he did to the people of Cuba. At the same time as our World History books teach of the Egyptian Civilization, there is little mention of the North American Mound Builders of the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys or the Anasazi of the Southwest. Little is taught about the large cities with apartment complexes and the extensive trade routes of the ancient people.

In the history of the Lewis and Clark expedition, the Homestead Act and the Louisiana Purchase, what is said about the theft of land from the Cherokee that had assimilated to becoming landowners in South Carolina and Georgia only to have their land seized, because they could not own land? Never is there a disparaging word about a president that forced hundreds of men, women and children to walk to Oklahoma, which we now refer to as the “Trail of Tears.” What source do I read that tells me how Lincoln preserved the union, but sanctioned the largest mass execution of 38 Dakota people in Mankato Minnesota? Or the carnival like atmosphere at the hanging, when the 38 trapdoors were simultaneously sprung.

Read More on the Story:
Diana Lee King: Rethinking the Education Approach for Indian Children (Indian Country Media Network 5/4)

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