Tag Archive: NativeAmericanStudies

Integrating Culturally Relevant Learning in Nunavut High Schools: Student and educator perspectives from Pangnirtung, Nunavut, and Ottawa, Ontario (Education Papers posted on April 11th, 2014 )

The current emphasis in Nunavut high school Education, and curriculum development, is to more effectively integrate culturally appropriate learning while also preparing students for their post-graduation goals. Working with students and educators in Pangnirtung, Nunavut and Ottawa, Ontario provided an opportunity to investigate how this goal is manifesting within and outside classroom activities, as well as how this supports student engagement, success, and pride in cultural identity. There are strong joint intentions and efforts being made by Inuit and Qallunaat (non-Inuit) educators alike to work together, involve community members, and bring Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ – Inuit ways of knowing, being and doing) principles into their school and/or classrooms. However, there are challenges with the practical implementation of an integrated learning approach, resulting in a disconnect between cultural and academic learning. Insights gained through this research aim to provide examples and recommendations to contribute towards ongoing efforts to make improvements for future generations of Inuit.

Reinventing the gaze: Judith Lowry’s artistic expressions contextualized (Education Papers posted on March 1st, 2013 )

The State of California has over one hundred rancherias Indian reservations), yet very few people know much about these diverse Native communities. Judith Lowry is a California Native woman who, through her art and activism, brings attention to the unique cultures and peoples that make up this region. She tells stories of the people and the land, thereby showing that Native California cultures are alive and Native traditions are rich. Through art, Lowry aims to inspire people to learn more about California Native peoples, their contemporary concerns, and the historical context of these concerns. The different styles, media, and content that Lowry chooses to incorporate in her artwork reflect the diverse art practices that are implemented by many Native artists today. Lowry presents images that shatter persistent stereotypes of California Indians and reveal that Native peoples and their art do not conform to one style or tradition´╝Ť they embrace many different cultures and artistic expressions. When her art is shown in local, national, and international exhibitions, Lowrys visual stories invite audiences to explore the world as seen through her eyes, and prompt people to perceive accurately California Indians. She challenges her audiences to replace their misperceptions with an awareness of current Indigenous cultural multiplicity. Along the way, Lowry, by definition, creates art that informs viewers about the beauty and diversity of Indian life. This is a significant achievement because historical events have deprived Native communities from exercising authority over the research, documentation, and representation of Native lives and cultures. It is a great accomplishment that Native artists have risen along side with other Native voices to share the history and reality of Native lives today, to correct centuries of misrepresentation that instilled in non-Natives the misunderstanding of who Native Americans are. Additionally, as a Native woman, Lowrys perspective provides critical discourse on Native art and Native history. Her female-focused agenda incites many profound emotional connections and powerful reactions to her art. By representing women who have endured painful experiences, she inspires women to persevere through difficult times and acknowledges their hardships.

Anishinaabemowin pane: A qualitative exploratory case study of an indigenous language immersion revitalization program (Education Papers posted on February 26th, 2013 )

The indigenous Anishinaabe language of the Great Lakes region of the United States and Canada is dying and considered moribund. If great efforts are not made now this ancient language could become another extinct language losing with it the knowledge and culture that it carries with it. This qualitative exploratory case study discovered the relationship between adult learners in an Anishinaabe indigenous immersion language program and second language L2) curriculum development and instruction and how that relationship impacts the effectiveness of the program in the process of language revitalization. Several questions drove the research study: a) How do the program goals and objectives align with the learners reasons for attending an Anishinaabe adult immersion language program?, b) How do the administrators and an instructor think the curriculum is aligned with learners goals and objectives and support learners success in second language acquisition?, c) How does the curriculum reflect concepts of andragogy adult learning theory, natural approach second language acquisition theory, and immersion model language revitalization models? A thorough review of the literature concerning andragogy adult learning theory, the natural approach second language acquisition theory, immersion model language revitalization models, program evaluation, and curriculum development constructed a better understanding of how each component relates to the adult Anishinaabe language immersion program. Curriculum documents, classroom observations, and participant interview comprised the data for analysis. The findings uncovered a misalignment between the learner goals, objectives, and reasons for attending the program and the program curriculum goals and objectives. The administration appears to be aware of this misalignment but solutions have not been development and implemented. This research provides an in-depth look into one program, but more study is needed to understand how adult indigenous language immersion programs can be effective and how best to address the learner needs.

In becoming Sa’ah Naaghai Bik’eh Hozhoon: The historical challenges and triumphs of Dine College (Education Papers posted on February 26th, 2013 )

This qualitative study seeks to determine the critical elements and activities that comprise the cultural history of Dine College as the first tribally controlled college in the United States. An oral history methodology utilizing a narrative Dine “story-telling” inquiry approach allowed this study to blend stories, songs, prayers, and ceremonies from the Dine creation stories to challenge a host of Social, educational, and cultural issues which the Dine people confronted in establishing the first post-secondary educational institution on tribal land, owned and operated by tribal people. Goals of this institution were to prepare students for further academic studies, employment, and culturally astuteness. Cultural history reflects the traditional stories, songs, prayers, and ceremonies of a people, and is used here to reconstruct the events of the past to gain a fair, accurate, and objective understanding of Dine College’s unique Philosophy of Sa’ah Naaghai Bik’eh Hozhoon and its related components: Nitsahakees -Thinking, Nahata-Planning, Iina-Living and Siih Hasin-Achievement. Through oral history narratives of four key Navajo individuals who were directly and indirectly involved in the College’s founding, five key themes are revealed: land, leadership, mission, Philosophy, and curriculum. They converge together to weave the cultural history of Dine College.

Culture camp: Examining teaching and learning at the convergence of Traditional Knowledge and Western Science (Education Papers posted on February 23rd, 2013 )

With mounting Environmental problems facing our society, there is an increasing need for an environmentally and scientifically literate citizenry with knowledge, skills, values and confidence to make informed Environmental decisions. Currently, many Education programs fail to build an understanding of the interconnected nature of culture, science and the environment. One approach to address the educational needs of our multicultural society, and better link culture and the environment, is the weaving of Indigenous Knowledge, also known as Traditional Knowledge, into environmental and science curriculum. This thesis explores the learning and teaching that occur during the convergence of Traditional Knowledge and Western Science during two summer camps in Seldovia, Alaska. This descriptive study is informed by the field of multicultural science Education and, in particular, the dialogue around the role of Traditional Knowledge in science and environmental Education. A participatory action research approach was used to conduct semi-structured interviews, focus groups, document review and participant observations. The findings revealed various teaching methods that instructors used in this learning environment. The evidence from this study points to participants learning largely about values, plants, animal behavior, habitats, and subsistence practices. The findings also present a dynamic array of Social, cultural, and historical factors shaping the learning environment and are related to the way participants are navigating the integration, overlap, and convergence of Western Science and Traditional Knowledge.

In becoming Sa’ah Naaghai Bik’eh Hozhoon: The historical challenges and triumphs of Dine College (Education Papers posted on February 17th, 2013 )

This qualitative study seeks to determine the critical elements and activities that comprise the cultural history of Dine College as the first tribally controlled college in the United States. An oral history methodology utilizing a narrative Dine “story-telling” inquiry approach allowed this study to blend stories, songs, prayers, and ceremonies from the Dine creation stories to challenge a host of Social, educational, and cultural issues which the Dine people confronted in establishing the first post-secondary educational institution on tribal land, owned and operated by tribal people. Goals of this institution were to prepare students for further academic studies, employment, and culturally astuteness. Cultural history reflects the traditional stories, songs, prayers, and ceremonies of a people, and is used here to reconstruct the events of the past to gain a fair, accurate, and objective understanding of Dine College’s unique Philosophy of Sa’ah Naaghai Bik’eh Hozhoon and its related components: Nitsahakees -Thinking, Nahata-Planning, Iina-Living and Siih Hasin-Achievement. Through oral history narratives of four key Navajo individuals who were directly and indirectly involved in the College’s founding, five key themes are revealed: land, leadership, mission, Philosophy, and curriculum. They converge together to weave the cultural history of Dine College.

Influences of Native American high school students’ financial knowledge and behavior (Education Papers posted on February 13th, 2013 )

The purpose of this quantitative study was to identify the relationship between culture, family socioeconomic status and community infrastructure to financial knowledge and behavior of Native American high school students in Montana, New Mexico, and South Dakota. A secondary analysis of survey data gathered in the 2008 Oweesta Jump$tart Study was analyzed by conducting an ANOVA comparison of means. The National Jump$tart survey was administered at high schools with a high population of Native American students in Montana, New Mexico and South Dakota. In the original study, questions were added to the survey instrument to collect demographic data. This dissertation is a detailed analysis of the research findings and literature related to financial literacy, financial Education, financial behavior, Native American culture, family socioeconomic status and community infrastructure. The theoretical foundation for this study is based on Bandura’s Social learning theory with the premise that learning occurs through reciprocal interaction of Environmental, behavioral and personal factors. Results of this study found a relationship between culture, family socioeconomic status and community infrastructure and financial knowledge. A weak relationship was found between financial behavior and the independent variables. The researcher recommends using findings to develop a financial Education curriculum that incorporates collaboration with families and community to provide an opportunity to increase financial literacy skills of Native American high school students. Further study is suggested to determine influences on financial behavior.

An adult education study of participatory community mapping for Indigenous knowledge production (Education Papers posted on February 9th, 2013 )

This dissertation explores the notion of participatory community mapping PCM) for Indigenous knowledge production. Three major questions were posed in the study. First, how can PCM foster Indigenous knowledge production and documentation? Second, how can PCM be used to include local voice and input in mapping projects, and third, how can adult educators in their cultural work apply PCM with communities? Though the research took a slightly different direction in execution, the approach of the PCM tool will still provide useful possibilities in future studies. The background of the work focuses on Indigenous knowledge, the history of mapmaking, and popular Education to arrive at new ways of looking at the mapmaking Enterprise. Data were collected over a period of years through work, participation and direct study with members of the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College LCOOCC) community located on the LCO Reservation in northern Wisconsin. Because of this intimacy with the college and its members, ethnographic methods were chosen, along with the potential of invoking participatory approaches. After many discussions with participants, along with a research test bed, the process in practice became an individual one versus the participatory opportunity originally entertained. The procedure followed the same structure outlined in the methodology but was one of a personal nature instead of community. Participants created maps of their lifeworlds using materials of their own choosing. These richly detailed map products were then used during the subsequent interviews for thick description. The generative themes that emerged from the study were land, subsistence, water, on/off reservation, family, community, language, learning, and ways of knowing. These themes were then highlighted by important stories and concepts that were contained in the interviews. The descriptions and maps provided first-hand visual and oral documentation of Indigenous knowledge. A mapmaking best practices outline was also created based upon participant suggestions and critique. This piece and the Computer maps created during the project highlight how cultural knowledge and voice can be injected into geomatics. Finally, the discussion of cultural applications, for the adult Education classroom and beyond, show that using mapmaking in research and teaching can lead to newfound possibilities and approaches that directly reflect learners lived experience.

An adult education study of participatory community mapping for Indigenous knowledge production (Education Papers posted on February 8th, 2013 )

This dissertation explores the notion of participatory community mapping PCM) for Indigenous knowledge production. Three major questions were posed in the study. First, how can PCM foster Indigenous knowledge production and documentation? Second, how can PCM be used to include local voice and input in mapping projects, and third, how can adult educators in their cultural work apply PCM with communities? Though the research took a slightly different direction in execution, the approach of the PCM tool will still provide useful possibilities in future studies. The background of the work focuses on Indigenous knowledge, the history of mapmaking, and popular Education to arrive at new ways of looking at the mapmaking Enterprise. Data were collected over a period of years through work, participation and direct study with members of the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College LCOOCC) community located on the LCO Reservation in northern Wisconsin. Because of this intimacy with the college and its members, ethnographic methods were chosen, along with the potential of invoking participatory approaches. After many discussions with participants, along with a research test bed, the process in practice became an individual one versus the participatory opportunity originally entertained. The procedure followed the same structure outlined in the methodology but was one of a personal nature instead of community. Participants created maps of their lifeworlds using materials of their own choosing. These richly detailed map products were then used during the subsequent interviews for thick description. The generative themes that emerged from the study were land, subsistence, water, on/off reservation, family, community, language, learning, and ways of knowing. These themes were then highlighted by important stories and concepts that were contained in the interviews. The descriptions and maps provided first-hand visual and oral documentation of Indigenous knowledge. A mapmaking best practices outline was also created based upon participant suggestions and critique. This piece and the Computer maps created during the project highlight how cultural knowledge and voice can be injected into geomatics. Finally, the discussion of cultural applications, for the adult Education classroom and beyond, show that using mapmaking in research and teaching can lead to newfound possibilities and approaches that directly reflect learners lived experience.

American Indian Adolescents’ Ethnic Identity and School Identification: Relationships with Academic Achievement, Perceived Discrimination, and Educational Utility (Education Papers posted on January 12th, 2013 )

In this study, I examined relationship among Social identity and attitudinal variables and academic achievement in a group of 128 American Indian (AI) high school students. Analyses were first conducted in order to explore whether AI students differed from European American (EA) students on measures of ethnic identity, school identification, perceived barriers, perceived discrimination, and abstract, concrete, and ambivalent educational utility. With the exception of school identification, statistically significant differences and large effect sizes between the AI and EA participants were found on all major variables, with the AI participants reporting higher scores on all measures except GPA. EA participants reported a higher GPA. Additional analyses explored the contribution of ethnic identity towards the variance of AI students’ GPA and school identification beyond the contribution from perceived barriers, perceived discrimination, and abstract, concrete, and ambivalent educational utility. Ethnic identity was a significant predictor of school identification. None of the variables, including ethnic identity, was a significant predictor of GPA. Final analysis explored the existence of clusters of AI participants based on ethnic identity and school identification. Two groups of AI students who varied on their level of school identification were identified. These groups did not differ on all major variables. I suggest that many of the statistically in-significant findings are due to the ethnically homogeneous context in which the AI participants come from. I argue that ethnicity-related attitudinal and Social identity variables are more important predictors of achievement in contexts in which ethnicity is more salient, and are less important in heterogeneous populations.