4 Reasons to Teach Indigenous History in Schools
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the World.”
Jeffrey Hamilton · Unsplash
There is a fundamental problem of system in this country.
Regardless of what people think and how they vote—the US was created for a system that does not work for the majority of its population.
Our grade schools have taught a version of US History that censors Indigenous presence to the point of reducing it to a figment of the imagination.
Indigenous People suffer a higher rate of severe depression, suicide, alcoholism, opioid abuse, and disenfranchisement than any other group living in the United States.
They are the only racial group targeted by racial slurs and imagery still commonly used at sporting events, and by the military.
While the brunt of the impact affects Indigenous American students—all US students who grow up without learning the true history of the United States continue to be subjects of the system which imposed the oppression in the first place.
Here’s a breakdown of Indigenous History in broad strokes:
Colonialization Period—from 1492
Treaty Period 1789-1871
Indian removal. 1834-1871 [Indian Removal Act 1830, 1830-1850 physical removal of approximately 100k Indigenous]
Allotment/assimilation. 1887-1934, a disaster
Indian reorganization act 1934, 1934—1958 “Indian New Deal”
Terminations 1953—1988 Encouraged urban relocation
Self determination 1975—Present
Schools in North Dakota, California, Connecticut, and other states have already made it law to teach Indigenous History in core curriculum.
Positive change could happen faster and smoother if there was a formal public apology from our government acknowledging the genocide which was committed against Indigenous People for 500 years.
Playing “Cowboys and Indians” as a kid taught me “Indians” were a one-time threat to US civilians. I didn’t think about where “Indians” came from or who they were but rather understood they used bows and arrows. At the time, I preferred to imagine I had a six-shooter. The game was a flash in the pan of my childhood activity, though the ideas of Indigenous it promotes lasted in my thinking for decades.
Here are four reasons why Indigenous People are alienated in the United States:
1. The history of Indigenous People is not properly taught in our education system.
a. One part of this is underrepresentation.
b. Another part is misrepresentation of Indigenous involvement in shaping the United States.
2. Poverty. The lowest earners of all are Indigenous.
3. Devastation. The extremely poor conditions of reservations facilitate drug use, PTSD, and suicide; also reason 1.
4. They’re invisible. Inadequate representation of Indigenous People has made it extremely difficult for us to integrate into the national dialogue.
These are four worthy reasons to bring Indigenous Americans into the national dialogue faster for equal representation, inclusion, and opportunity through widespread formal teaching of their history in our schools.
Reading Howard Zinn’s book A People’s History of the United States was revolutionary in my thinking of US History.
The most alarming thing about this book for me was that I sort of knew what had happened to Indigenous without knowing the facts.
Sort of knowing the truth doesn’t start a revolution—but knowing facts that need to be changed is the beginning of one.
Our country is like a massive graveyard we dance on every year when we celebrate Thanksgiving.
Knowing without knowing enough is a real problem.
Knowing without knowing enough isn’t good enough to change a system that operates in and protects the white nationalist Capitalism we live under. What’s worse is we are a part of the problem because we support this system through our investments.
Think of consumerism as compliance, watching TV as pacification.
The divide of left radicalism is so deep there are arguments among Anarchists about how Anarchism should work, among Communists regarding how communism should work—without a resolution to progress unitedly as one movement with a common goal. On top of this, many progressives are neither Anarchists nor Communists. Many have Centrist views but want things to reach a certain point of improvement before they get comfortable.
There’s too much debate happening to be effective.
We know they were the target group of the largest systematic murder of people the world has ever seen. If you’re going to read deep about it, start here.
We know tens of millions of people who identified in over 600 tribes living in the land that became the United States were already thriving here when the settlers arrived.
We know the settlers slaughtered these 600+ tribes until there were a mere few thousand or hundred of each tribe member left.
To call them unfairly represented in US grade schools is a severe understatement.
Where are the Indigenous American stand-up comics?
Who are the actors who rival the fame of Scarlett Johansson or Morgan Freeman, etc.
Why don’t we hear Indigenous music on the radio?
Why were Indigenous left out of television during its first six decades? [Excepting stereotypes.]
Because they’ve been marginalized from society for centuries.
To sire a population who see a fictional side of the United States so that they agree with its policies.
By teaching Indigenous History we establish truth in another area of a mendacious entity that used history like a tool to build this country.
Who wants to wait any longer?