A Charter School Gets Canceled for Wanting to Teach Indigenous History

Homepage | Forums | Topics In Depth | Education | A Charter School Gets Canceled for Wanting to Teach Indigenous History

Viewing 0 reply threads
  • Author
    • #224413
      • Total Posts: 9,978


      Until the 1960s, North Carolina oversaw and funded segregated schools (and hospital wings, and movie theater sections, and cemeteries) for its Native population, the funding for the Indian schools coming from the minuscule coffers of the state’s Department of Negro Education. This included a school for the Lumbee called the Indian Normal School of Robeson County, currently known as the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. These were not quite boarding schools in the vein of the infamous Carlisle Indian School (which aimed to erase Indigenous identities): In many of these schools, the Native kids were allowed to be themselves and to be taught by teachers who came from their communities.

      When many of these schools were shut down to comply with the federal diktats of the Civil Rights Era, the Native children were herded into similarly under-funded public school alongside their white counterparts. This was where the real assimilative efforts began. Despite Native kids learning alongside white children, the history books, from the late 1960s to present day, never managed to catch up to the fact that Native people are in fact still alive and present and thriving. And so, for many, the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre (more often framed as the Battle of Wounded Knee) was the final piece of Native history imparted by their public school education.

      One of the defining political aspects of the Lumbee Tribe is the fact that they have not been recognized by the federal government, meaning they are not allowed full access to federal Indian Country programs. (Congress also underfunds these programs.) Because of this, and because the community has struggled to overcome the devastating economic effects of twentieth-century segregation efforts, Robeson County ranks among the state’s lowest by nearly every socioeconomic measurable. Were the Lumbee able to enforce their sovereignty, they could take ownership of their own social services, as has been done by the Eastern Band of Cherokee, the state’s only federally recognized tribe. Instead, they are forced to rely on the state for hospitals, child welfare, and, of course, for schools. As a result, charter schools are the only tool available for shaping the education received by their children, and their ability to do even that is limited to what the state government and its various committees deem appropriate.

      Given North Carolina’s history of segregating and assimilating its Native population, the repeated failure on the part of the federal government to recognize the Lumbee, and the lack of adequate Native-focused teaching materials in the state’s lesson plans, this charter feels necessary. And if one is operating under the notion that Christian extremists can operate vaccine-free plague breeding grounds, surely a historically marginalized Native community should be allowed merely to teach its own history.

      Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

Viewing 0 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.