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Indigenous Studies Speaks to American Sociology: The Need for Individual and Social Transformations of Indigenous Education in the USA

Michelle M. Jacob ()
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Michelle M. Jacob: Department of Education Studies, 5277 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403, USA

Social Sciences, 2017, vol. 7, issue 1, 1-10

Abstract: Despite legislation to increase educational success for racial and ethnic minorities in the USA, educational disparities persist. I examine this trend among Indigenous peoples in the state of Oregon, but extend it to education systems across the USA. In Oregon, American Indians have the poorest educational attainment of all racial and ethnic groups; only 55% of American Indians graduate on time. I examine this problem from a critical sociological perspective, answering the call for sociology to end its “complicity in the elimination of the native”. I argue education systems are extensions of settler colonial logics and power structures. I propose educational transformations built upon Indigenous cultural teachings, advocating that we follow an Indigenous educational framework that has as its foundation: (1) Indigenous elders’ instructions that education should teach us to be “real human beings”; (2) Indigenous teachings that invite us to engage in reflexivity to understand the “spirit” of our work; and (3) my own Yakama teachings on utilizing a decolonizing praxis within educational institutions. I conclude that American sociology needs to draw from Indigenous Studies scholarship to better understand and address the education inequalities facing Indigenous peoples in the USA.

Keywords: education; Indigenous; American Indian; United States; inequality (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: A B N P Y80 Z00 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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