Indian Subjects: New Directions in the History of Indigenous Education

Short Seminar

October 28–29, 2009

Indian SubjectsIndian SubjectsShort Seminar Co-Chaired by Brenda Child, Department of American Studies, University of Minnesota and Brian Klopotek, Department of Ethnic Studies, University of OregonIndian SubjectsShort Seminar Co-Chaired by Brenda Child, Department of American Studies, University of Minnesota and Brian Klopotek, Department of Ethnic Studies, University of Oregon

This seminar, convened by Brenda Child and Brian Klopotek, brought together participants working on the next wave of scholarship in the history of indigenous education. That field began 30 years ago with policy-based analyses, shifted in the 1990s toward studying Native perspectives on boarding school experiences, and most recently has been examining the ways in which Native people confronted schooling that was part of a broader colonial, assimilationist endeavor. Many indigenous scholars in this recent wave consciously move discussions of education away from national policy and white reformers to place indigenous people at the center of their historical narratives.

“Having established indigenous educational history as a significant field of study, we are now poised to populate it with a broader set of actors and plot lines,” said the seminar co-chairs. This seminar, a precursor to an edited volume of papers, “recasts the ‘look’ of indigenous educational history, bringing in stories from indigenous Latin America, nonfederal Indians in the United States, and Native Hawaiians and Alaskans, while at the same time exploring new themes such as sexualities in boarding schools, indigenous educational rhetoric, and traditional educational philosophies.”

One of the central tenets of the seminar was that multisided, multiscale, and comparative research will reveal an entirely new understanding of the field. The seminar opened up the discussion of American Indian education in ways that challenge some deeply held beliefs about Native education, including the notion that the boarding school experience was uniformly damaging to indigenous people. “For example, scholars in New Zealand have pointed out that the Native school system, designed to assimilate Maoris into the dominant culture, helped spread literacy in the Maori language, working toward its preservation and eventually leading to the revitalization movement that flourishes today,” the co-chairs said. 

Brenda Child, Chair Associate Professor, Department of American Studies, University of Minnesota Introduction
Brian R. Klopotek, Chair Assistant Professor, Ethnic Studies Program, University of Oregon Indian Education under Jim Crow
Noelani Goodyear-Ka‘ōpua Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Hawaii at Manoa Making “good and industrious men and women”: Pedagogies of Domestication, Race, Gender and Citizenship in Hawaii
Laura Graham Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Iowa New Directions in Intercultural and Bilingual Education in Venezuela
Shari Huhndorf Associate Professor, Department of English, University of Oregon Education for ‘Civilization’: The Alaska Native Experience
K. Tsianina Lomawaima Professor, Department of American Indian Studies, University of Arizona Discussant
Alyssa Mt. Pleasant Assistant Professor, Department of History, Yale University Early Modern Education for Extinction? An Investigation of Colonial Schooling at the Buffalo Creek Reservation

Sponsored by The Annenberg Foundation

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