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Indigenous Philosophies and Critical Education

A Reader- Foreword by Akwasi Asabere-Ameyaw

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Edited By George J. Sefa Dei

An important academic goal is to understand ongoing contestations in knowledge in the search to engage everyday social practice and experiences, as well as the social barriers and approaches to peaceful human coexistence. This reader pulls together ideas concerning Indigenous epistemologies (e.g., worldviews, paradigms, standpoints, and philosophies) as they manifest themselves in the mental lives of persons both from and outside the orbit of the usual Euro-American culture. The book engages Indigenous knowledges as far more than a «contest of the marginals», thereby challenging the way oppositional knowledges are positioned, particularly in the Western academy. Subsequently, this book is a call to recognize and acknowledge Indigenous knowledges as legitimate knowings in their own right, and not necessarily in competition with other sources or forms of knowledge. The project offers an opportunity for the critical thinker to continue on a de-colonial/anti-colonial intellectual journey in ways informed by Indigenous theorizing.

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10. Indigeneity in Education: A By-product of Assimilation? Dennis Mcpherson 157

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According to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, “We. . .have no history of colonialism. So we haveall of the things that many people admire about the great powers but none of the things that threaten or bother them . . .” (as cited in Ljunggren, 2009). Yet colonialism is a fact of life for Native people and it reached its peak within the Indian Residential School system. There are many testi- monials to the atrocities suffered by individuals attending these schools, but perhaps the greatest harm of all is the intentional cultural disruption of Native people as described by a Cree Elder What happened in the residential school. . .was to assimilate. It didn’t matter whether they called it inte- gration or whatever. It all boiled down to one thing, and that was to assimilate the native people into the non-native culture. Either you’re going to train them to be little farmers, and the girls to be maids in homes, or whatever. . .that was the mandate (Stonebanks, 2008, p. 230). With the human rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, desegregation became the policy of the day, and the Department of Indian Affairs began the lengthy process of shutting down the Indian Residential Schools across the country. As Indians began to gain a political voice in the latter part of the 1960s we began to hear more loudly of “Indian Control of Indian Education.” Desegregation also created a new problem for Indian Reserve communities. When the Indian Residential Schools were closed, children returned to the reserves...

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