Lack of Indigenous History in Education
Dear future president,
When you were in school and taking your required history classes did you learn much about the Native Americans in this country? You have probably briefly touched on the subject but you didn’t really go into depth. As an Alaskan Native high school student in Dillingham Alaska, I see this as dissatisfying to my education.We should be able to get more of a unbiased education about the first peoples of this nation.
I want to see a change in the high school curriculum for students. . Not knowing the history of these people we don’t get a complete understanding on why things affect native people today. With the lack of education about these indigenous people, students can develop prejudices against them. Rather than learning just the white perspective of history, I think that interpreting the Indigenous point of view of history would help us develop a better understanding on why things are the way they are today.
In the U.S, high school students are required to have an average of four history credits depending on the state.(http://ecs.force.com/mbdata/mbprofall?Rep=HS01). Students should be getting a broad education on the history of America. Yet there is a downfall; the aspect of history is being taught from a white perspective. This causes a misunderstanding of the true events that happened in history. This can lead to students perceiving that all groups of people are bad for going against the United States. An example of this is the Native Americans fighting against the government for taking their land and moving them to reservations during western expansion. They weren’t allowed to hunt their buffalo and live off the land they have known for centuries. Even though natives were being stripped from their land students are being taught that the Native Americans rebelled against them and started a war.
When a subject is taught this way it makes the Native Americans look like the enemy when in a true statement it is the western people who are stealing and removing these indigenous people. When history is presented in this manner it can negatively affect a young student’s mindset on how they see the Native people. Therefore, we should look at the indigenous point of view and where they are coming from to completely understand why things are the way they are.
When looking back on history the Native people of this country has faced a lot of hard challenges. Some of the root problems in Native homes can be traced back centuries to the trauma these indigenous people have faced. An example of this can be in Native Alaskan homes during the late 1800s and early 1900s, children were sent to boarding schools to make them more westernized (http://www.theannainstitue.org/American%20Indians%20Alaska%20Natives/Boarding%20School%20Trauma%20Alaska%20Native.pdf).They were punished if they spoke their native language or if they dressed in their traditional garments. The people that were affected by this would carry those traumas for the rest of their life. Not only does it affect them it affects the generations that come after that.
These historical traumas caused mass outbreaks of alcoholism and drug problems. It also caused these cultures to lose their way with their language and traditional values. As an Alaskan Native I personally have been affected by this because I don’t know my Yup’ik language very well. I have a longing to know more and I try to embrace what I do know and what I have learned but without the education it is difficult. That is why education on Indigenous peoples is so important because without the knowledge people lose who they are and others do not have an understanding on why things affect these native people.
As you can see Mr. or Mrs. President there is a concerning problem in today’s schools. The lack of knowledge about the indigenous peoples is a huge problem that needs to be addressed. I as a native person would like to see a change in the school curriculum and funding for education specifically on Indigenous history. With better knowledge we’d have a better understanding on the native peoples cultures, why things affect them the way they do, and it would hopefully minimize the amount of prejudice and racism.