When tribal sovereignty challenges democracy: American Indian education and the democratic ideal

K. Tsianina Lomawaima, Teresa L. McCarty

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    86 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    The lessons of American Indian education - a grand experiment in standardization - can lead to a more equitable educational system for all U.S. citizens. While masquerading as a tool for equal opportunity, standardization has marginalized Native peoples. We argue for diversity - not standardization - as a foundational value for a just multicultural democracy, but diversity is feared by some as a threat to the nation's integrity. Critical historical analysis of the apparently contradictory policies and practices within American Indian education reveals a patterned response to cultural and linguistic diversity, as the federal government has attempted to distinguish "safe" from "dangerous" Native practices. Examples of the contest between Indigenous self-determination (rooted in internal sovereignty) and federal control illustrate the profound national ambivalence toward diversity but also the potential to nourish "places of difference" within a healthy democracy.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)279-305
    Number of pages27
    JournalAmerican Educational Research Journal
    Volume39
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 2002

    Keywords

    • American Indian education
    • Critical democracy
    • Federal Indian policy
    • Multicultural education

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Education

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