Toward Pedagogies and Methodologies of Collaboration, Inclusion, and Voice
9. Critical Storying: Power Through Survivance and Rhetorical Sovereignty
The history of American Indian education can be summarized in three simple words: battle for power. (Lomawaima, 2000, p. 2)
Educators have long used and debated the way stories illustrate and theorize power as embedded and embodied in notions of educational difference and American Indian1 students. Educational difference as it applies here is not about essentializing, i.e., all American Indian students learn “this” way. Nor is it focused on deficit, i.e., low test scores or underpreparedness. Rather, it is about acknowledging Native power despite the effects of colonization on American Indian history and despite the subsequent social, political, and educational marginalization of Native populations and knowledges. Difference, as I speak about it, alludes to American Indian tribal nations, communities, and peoples holding sovereignty, yet being set apart—placed as different—from the majoritarian U.S. nation-state.
As the introductory quote by Lomawaima (2000) suggests, American Indian education is a site of tension concerning which or whose stories hold, possess, and/or wield power, and how they do so. Brayboy (2005) attends to tension-filled battles for power in his explication of Tribal Critical Theory2 (TribalCrit). TribalCrit is related to but different from other critical theories, in that, as Brayboy argues, stories are theories, not separate from them. Stories constitute legitimate sources of data and justifiable ways of coming to know and understand that data (Brayboy, Gough, Leonard, Roehl, & Solyom, 2011). Brayboy’s notion of story as theory is not unusual; it is situated within a long tradition of Indigenous...
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