Indigenous Solutions Can Contribute to Equity In Our Communities

by | Sep 2, 2021 | Editorials and Opinions

Indigenous educators must ensure Indigenous knowledge and ancestral wisdom are perpetuated

By Jon Ghahate, Cultural Educator, Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
Re-printed from the Green Fire Times with permission.

Each of the 573 U.S. federally recognized Indigenous sovereign nations are communities that have their own story, their interpretation of what constitutes their “own narrative.” It is certainly their right to take ownership of their narrative. The “federally recognized” communities or tribes that have called the Western Hemisphere home a millennium before 1492 CE, sadly, under-represent the hundreds, if not thousands of Indigenous communities that were decimated by disease, warfare, slavery and outright genocide, and are no longer here to claim that right.

Taking ownership and having the opportunity to tell their own story is just one of the salient challenges Indigenous communities—specifically Indigenous education systems within their communities—are confronted with.

Complicating this are the supremist Euro-centric/Anglo-centric faux narratives, such as Critical Race Theory, nationalism, exceptionalism and “American values” rhetoric, promulgated by certain individuals, political agencies and parent/civilian organizations. The challenge confronting education systems across the board is the hatred that these inherently racist narratives seed and inflame. Educating and informing those
who have based their lives on this misperception of U.S. history, and taking ownership of our narrative, cannot and should not be perceived as “revisionist,” but rather as adjunct, contributing our perspective, our inclusion in the telling of history—the part that was left out or ignored.

So how do Indigenous educators, legislators and parents, as well as com- passionate fellow non-Native educators, work to provide a well-rounded, quality and authentic, knowledge/science-based curriculum that prepares students, teachers and people in general to be responsible, informed members of any community, whatever their career choice?

What tools do we, as altruistic educators, have at our disposal to help create respectful and inclusive information? With whom can we partner, engage and work collaboratively? What agencies and organizations can we work with to build foundations to work toward these ideals?

Most importantly, as Indigenous educators that exist in a two-world paradigm of Native culture, heritage and language, which contrasts with a contemporary academic/digital-based and global environment, we have a responsibility to balance the legacy of our ancestors—who survived the Indian Boarding School horrors, resilient, although detached from their culture—to ensure and perpetuate Indigenous knowledge, ancestral wisdom and the narrative of our being, into the immediate future and beyond. That is our challenge.

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