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Module 8:
"Indian Education & Indigenous Knowledge"

      Given that there were an estimated 100 million Indigenous people living in North America at the time that Columbus “discovered” it; and that they had existed there for thousands of years; and their societies were able to function economically, socially, and politically, one can therefore assume that there must have been some form of “education” to pass along cultural necessities as well as the skills to continue to make the society vibrant and viable. Practices were in place all along whereby new generations became full members of society. “From the first attempts at educating American Indians, the goal has been to change them” (Anderson, T. A., Kickingbird, K., Deloria, V., Jr., Bluedog, K., Fuchs, E., & Havighurst, R., 2008, p. 2). There seems to be little doubt that the conquering Western European nations almost immediately upon contact sensed that what they were witnessing here in the New World was not acceptable to their own culture. Subsequently, their efforts to “change” the Native population manifested itself in the guise of “education.” “Formal education of Native Americans began when Europeans sought to convert them to Christianity and educate (“civilize” as they defined it) the Native peoples of this hemisphere” (Thornton, 1998, p. 79). Though the first attempt at this process is credited to the Spanish on the island of Cuba, the French, the English and the Americans all took their successive turns in applying the principles of Christianity to this virtually “virgin” territory.

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