Teachiteaching Indigenous American Culture and History: Perpetuating Knowledge Or Furthering Intellectual Colonization?(Report) - Journal of Social Sciences

Teachiteaching Indigenous American Culture and History: Perpetuating Knowledge Or Furthering Intellectual Colonization?(Report)

By Journal of Social Sciences

  • Release Date - Published: 2011-04-01
  • Book Genre: Social Science
  • Author: Journal of Social Sciences
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Teachiteaching Indigenous American Culture and History: Perpetuating Knowledge Or Furthering Intellectual Colonization?(Report) Journal of Social Sciences read online review & book description:

INTRODUCTION From most popular perspectives, learning about indigenous American peoples and their cultures can be both informative and fun. Students of all ages are almost always eager to learn about Native Americans. Thus, they are easily drawn into an intellectual environment where they can imagine what aboriginal life was like before foreign colonizers penetrated the Indian nations to undermine indigenous claims to their homelands, desecrating and possessing them while exterminating bands and tribes and forcing surviving native peoples to relocate elsewhere. Setting aside the obvious historical conflicts involving some of the most hideous aspects of American history, many of today's elementary and secondary school students are regularly exposed to interactive and hands-on instruction about the cultures and life ways of indigenous peoples. Reflecting a hunger to know and a desire to experience something of another culture in an increasingly global environment, interpretations of indigenous American cultures through educational presentations are widely held and remain very popular. Such instruction is most often carried out as a part of the curricula of elementary and secondary education and within the contexts of community parks and recreation activities and museum programs. The goals of this kind of education are usually carried out with good intentions, but in practice such presentations about Native American cultures are also just as often romanticized, presenting problems that usually go unnoticed or ignored for a number of reasons. Such "exotification" (Churchill, 1998) of indigenous peoples and accompanying distortions of their cultures were subjects addressed decades ago by an aboriginal Australian critic with the following statement: "Our heritage-our playground" (Colwell-Chanthaphonh, 2009). The resulting cultural misrepresentation and related issues of stereotyping remain significant enough to question the validity of programs dealing with indigenous peoples. Such problems are pervasive and often painful for the Native people under examination and discussion. The hurts that they experience are most often not recognized or easily acknowledged by responsible parties as indigenous American educator Dierdre Almeida has noted, adding that, most corrective efforts fail and that, in the end the effort to rectify cultural misinformation "succeeds only in replacing one [older] unrealistic portrayal with another" (Almeida, 1996).

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