The role of Native American teachers and administrators working in reservation schools has received little attention from scholars. Utilizing numerous interviews and extensive fieldwork, Terry Huffman shows how they define their roles and judge their achievements. He examines the ways they address the complex issues of cultural identity that affect their students and themselves and how they cope with the pressures of teaching disadvantaged students while meeting the requirements for reservation schools. Personal accounts from the educators enrich the discussion. Their candid comments about their choice of profession; their position as teachers, role models, and social service agents; and the sometimes harsh realities of reservation life offer unique insight into the challenges and rewards of providing an education to Native American students. Huffman also considers the changing role of Native educators as reservation schools prepare their students for the increasing complexities of modern life and society while still transmitting traditional culture. He shows that Native American educators meet daunting challenges with enduring optimism and persistence. The insights these educators offer can serve those in other communities where students navigate a difficult path out of discrimination and poverty.
The first collection of writings and images focused on an off-reservation Indian boarding school, The Indian School on Magnolia Avenue shares the fascinating story of this flagship institution, featuring the voices of American Indian students.
In 1902, the federal government opened Sherman Institute in Riverside, California, to transform American Indian students into productive farmers, carpenters, homemakers, nurses, cooks, and seamstresses. Indian students helped build the school and worked daily at Sherman; teachers provided vocational education and placed them in employment through the Outing Program.
Contributors to The Indian School on Magnolia Avenue have drawn on documents held at the Sherman Indian Museum to explore topics such as the building of Sherman, the school’s Mission architecture, the nursing program, the Special Five-Year Navajo Program, the Sherman cemetery, and a photo essay depicting life at the school.
Despite the fact that Indian boarding schools—with their agenda of cultural genocide— prevented students from speaking their languages, singing their songs, and practicing their religions, most students learned to read, write, and speak English, and most survived to benefit themselves and contribute to the well-being of Indian people.
Scholars and general readers in the fields of Native American studies, history, education, public policy, and historical photography will find The Indian School on Magnolia Avenue an indispensable volume.
Winner of the Juanita Brooks Prize in Mormon Studies
From 1947 to 2000, some 50,000 Native American children left the reservations to live with Mormon foster families. While some dropped out of the Indian Student Placement Program (ISPP), for others the months spent living with LDS families often proved more penetrating than expected.
The ISPP emerged in the mid-twentieth century, championed by Apostle Spencer W. Kimball, aligned with the then national preferences to terminate tribal entities and assimilate indigenous people. But as the paradigm shifted to self-determination, critics labeled the program as crudely assimilationist. Some ISPP students like Navajo George P. Lee fiercely defended the LDS Church before native peers and Congress, contending that it empowered Native people and instilled the true Indian identity; meanwhile Red Power activists organized protests in Salt Lake City, denouncing LDS colonization. As a new generation of church leaders quietly undercut the Indian programs, many of its former participants felt a sense of confusion and abandonment as Mormon distinctions for Native people faded in the late twentieth century. Making Lamanites traces this student experience within contested cultural and institutional landscapes to reveal how and why many of these Native youth adopted a new notion of Indianness.
Winner of the Francis Armstrong Madsen Best Book Award from the Utah Division of State History.
In Plateau IndianWays with Words, Barbara Monroe makes visible the arts of persuasion of the Plateau Indians, whose ancestral grounds stretch from the Cascades to the Rockies, revealing a chain of cultural identification that predates the colonial period and continues to this day. Culling from hundreds of student writings from grades 7-12 in two reservation schools, Monroe finds that students employ the same persuasive techniques as their forebears, as evidenced in dozens of post-conquest speech transcriptions and historical writings. These persuasive strategies have survived not just across generations, but also across languages from Indian to English and across multiple genres from telegrams and Supreme Court briefs to school essays and hip hop lyrics.
Anecdotal evidence, often dramatically recreated; sarcasm and humor; suspended or unstated thesis; suspenseful arrangement; intimacy with and respect for one’s audience as co-authors of meaning—these are among the privileged markers in this particular indigenous rhetorical tradition. Such strategies of personalization, as Monroe terms them, run exactly counter to Euro-American academic standards that value secondary, distant sources; “objective” evidence; explicit theses; “logical” arrangement. Not surprisingly, scores for Native students on mandated tests are among the lowest in the nation.
While Monroe questions the construction of this so-called achievement gap on multiple levels, she argues that educators serving Native students need to seek out points of cultural congruence, selecting assignments and assessments where culturally marked norms converge, rather than collide. New media have opened up many possibilities for this kind of communicative inclusivity. But seizing such opportunities is predicated on educators, first, recognizing Plateau Indian students’ distinctive rhetoric, and then honoring their sovereign right to use it. This book provides that first step.
In 1889, Sitting Bull addressed the formal, Western-style education of his people. "When you find something good in the white man’s road, pick it up," he intoned. "When you find something that is bad . . . leave it alone. We shall master his machinery, and his inventions, his skills, his medicine, his planning, but we will retain our beauty and still be Indians." Sitting Bull’s vision—that cultural survival and personal perseverance derive from tribal resilience—lies at the heart of Tribal Strengths and Native Education. Basing his account on the insights of six veteran American Indian educators who serve in three reservation schools on the Northern Plains, Terry Huffman explores how Native educators perceive pedagogical strengths rooted in their tribal heritage and personal ethnicity. He recounts their views on the issues facing students and shows how tribal identity can be a source of resilience in academic and personal success. Throughout, Huffman and the educators emphasize the importance of anchoring the formal education of Indian children in Native values and worldviews—in "tribal strengths."