Our staff is aware of the historical relationship between schools and Alaska Native populations and the theories of how this has impacted Alaska Native populations generationally. Staff and students have opportunities to learn about this history and theories on generational impacts.
Our staff is not aware of the history of western schools in Alaska or only views it through the perspective of western culture.
Our staff acknowledges the history of boarding schools and impact of western school on AK Native culture and students.
We Got This!
Our staff is aware of the history of western schooling in AK and has the vocabulary and understanding to discuss assimilation, colonization, generational trauma and cultural deficit model.
Understanding the history of schools and Alaska Natives over past generations is valuable in understanding current Alaska Native students and families as well as the perspectives of the institution. Understanding the role school has played in colonization and assimilation of Alaska Native students in the past is essential in building the skills needed to identify current practices that may be rooted in this history.
A friend once told me how she was able to learn her own language because her father was left with his grandparents while her own grandfather, and the other children of that generation, we sent off to boarding school in Oregon. Her father was able to gain an Indigenous education from his grandparents, but his own father and aunts and uncles were required to wear western clothes and leave the village. She shared how many of the later children of her uncles did not learn, nor pass on, the traditions as her father was able to do for her.
Links & Resources
Great Reads and Resources
This 2018 NPR feature The Conflicting Educations Of Sam Schimmel by Rebecca Hersher is a great read or listen to consider the impact of past boarding schools on current generations. It is a story of an Alaskan family.
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Several researchers found that students who sought to assimilate, take on the Western culture, did not do as well as students who resisted assimilation and learned to embrace their cultural identity as a strength (Adelman, et al, 2013; Chen 2012; Huffman 2001; Larimore & McClellan, 2005). Many educators understand the atrocities of the history of Indian education, but do not see the connection to the more subtle expectations of cultural substitution in today’s schools. Learning about the history and the theories of how this has impacted generations of students can help educators recognize when their own expectations may be tied to historical practices.