The Role of Education in the Struggle for Native American Sovereignty
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Cultural preservation



Submitted : 2023-12-30
Accepted : 2024-01-14
Published : 2024-01-29


This article explores the enduring struggle of Native Americans to preserve their land, culture, and sovereigntyin the face of European colonization and U.S. expansion. The Native American population, estimated between five and 18million prior to 1492, was drastically reduced to 250,000 by the early 20th century due to colonization’s harsh realities.Education emerged as a critical battleground for preserving tribal identity, as the U.S. imposed its system to erase nativecultures. Native American children were coerced into feeling ashamed of their heritage, all while the nation denied themequal opportunities. Educational autonomy is intrinsically linked to the broader fight for Native American sovereignty,enabling tribal nations to wield political and economic power as sovereign entities within the U.S. boundaries. Thenarrative covers the encroachment and division policies of the Reconstruction Era, exemplified by the Homestead Act andthe Dawes Act, which led to the loss of tribal land and imposition of Western culture. It also delves into the establishmentof off-reservation boarding schools, such as the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, which sought to assimilate NativeAmerican children through familial separation and a curriculum that suppressed cultural identity. This historical overviewreflects the hurdles overcome and the remaining obstacles in Native Americans’ quest for educational autonomy and self-determination, ultimately serving as a testament to their enduring resilience and determination in the face of centuries ofadversity


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