Indigenous Education Columns from NABE News 1994-1997
© National Association for Bilingual Education

Return to NABE Contents Page

21. Affirming Diversity, 18(1), 9. 9/15/1994
22. Nurturing Learning in Native American Students, 18(7), 13. 6/15/1995
23. Affirmative Action, 19(1), 11. 9/15/1995
24. Two Tribal Language Preservation Efforts, 19(6), 17 & 32. 5/1/1996
25. Citizen or Subject, Part I, 19(7), 35-36 &42. 6/15/1996
26. Citizen or Subject? Part II, 19(8), 9-10 & 26. 8/1/1996
27. NABE's 1997 American Indian Institute, 20(5), 41-42, 3/15/1997.
28. The Fourth Annual Stabilizing Indigenous Languages Symposium, 20(8), 21-22. 8/1/1997
29. Places of Memory: Whiteman's Schools and Native American Communities, 21(1), 11-12, 9/15/ 97
30. Teaching Indigenous Languages, 21(2), 31, 11/1/1997

Affirming Diversity
NABE News September 15, 1994, Vol. 18, No. 1.
Jon Reyhner

Most college textbooks pretend to be authoritative. They also try to cover too much ground and do so in a disjointed and dry manner. However, a new type of "postmodern" textbook that presents an important synthesis or original interpretation of a field of study is appearing. These postmodern textbooks clearly admit to a specific point of view and recognize scholarly debates (Spring, 1991).

Sonia Nieto's book Affirming Diversity: The Sociopolitical Context of Multicultural Education published by Longman in 1992 is a good example of the best of these postmodern textbooks. Jim Cummins in his introduction to the book lauds it for being the first book that "provides a comprehensive framework for analyzing the multiple causes of school failure among subordinated group students" and then "suggests creative intervention strategies that are supported by research and theory. "

Along with an admirable synthesis of past and current research on multicultural education, Nieto ties this research to the classroom with ten case studies of secondary students. The case studies include black, Cape Verdean, Puerto Rican, Vietnamese, white, urban Native American, and other students. The voices of these case-study students bring home the reality of being a minority in America and in America's classrooms.

The Cape Verdean student declares heretically, "I don't think I want to be an American citizen. . . . To tell the truth, I don't like America at all. . . . I like it but I don't like the life-styles. It's different from my point of view . What I'm thinking of doing is work in American for ten years and go back to my country because America's a violent country. It's dangerous with crime, with drugs" (p. 174). A mixed-race student says "I think you have to be creative to be a teacher, you have to make it interesting. You can't just go in and say . . . 'I'm gonna teach them right out of the book and that's the way it is, and don't ask questions.' Because then you're gonna lose their interest" (p. 43).

The case studies also highlight the responsibility some minority children have to interpret for their parents both the language and the system of the dominant society. Furthermore, the parents are often preoccupied with the struggle to make ends meet and have little time to be involved with their children's education.

In addition, she found in her case studies that schools, especially secondary schools, need to go beyond the basics and offer a variety of activities that students can become involved in because these activities help keep students in school. "Rather than detract from school success, meaningful activities in the home, school, and community that make productive use of students' time seem to support it. Particularly with adolescents, the importance of belonging and 'fitting in' are best met with structured activities that at the same time allow for independence and are a vehicle for expression" (p. 256).

Nieto notes that her vision of multicultural education is simply good pedagogy. Good teachers build on the experiential background of their students, and that experiential background cannot be disintwined from their cultural background. If one believes in the power of teaching, then "being smart is a goal, not a characteristic." Good pedagogy that recognizes the social nature of learning leads to using cooperative learning, and cooperative learning has been found to be "one of the most effective ways of reducing prejudice," more effective than studying about prejudice (p.253).

Nieto criticizes national education initiatives because "the further the curriculum is from the school level, the less it will reflect the culture of the students in that school" (p. 73). But at the same time she notes that "the assumption that culture is the primary determinant of academic achievement can be over-simplistic, dangerous, and counterproductive (p. 110). She cites research that indicates that teachers who "encourage their students to use personal experience to make sense of their school experiences" are more successful (p. 217).

She recommends "mutual accommodation" where the "schools use the language and culture of the students in teaching" and the "students use the language [English] and culture of the school in learning" (p. 258). Through this mutual accommodation we expand the definition of what it means to be an American. In the past the main fuel of melting pot was shame rather than pride. But anyone attending an American Indian Pow Wow and watching the grand entry with its flag songs and honoring of veterans can see that American patriotism can be strongly displayed in diverse cultures.


Nieto, S. (1992). Affirming diversity: The sociopolitical context of multicultural education. New York: Longman.

Spring, J. (1992). Textbook writing and ideological management: A postmodern approach. In P. G. Altbach, G. P. Kelly, H. G. Petrie, & L. Weis (Eds.), Textbooks in American society: Politics, policy, and pedagogy (pp. 185-198). Albany: State University of New York.

Nurturing Learning in Native American Students
NABE News June 15, 1995, Vol. 18, No. 7.
Jon Reyhner

Relatively few books have been written on teaching American Indian children. Dr. Robert W. Rhodes' Nurturing Learning in American Indian Students1 published in 1994 is one of the most recent books on the subject. Dr. Rhodes began teaching on the Hopi Reservation in 1971, and his book focuses mainly on education on the Hopi and Navajo Reservations. Many of the chapters in this book are revisions of articles previously published in the Journal of American Indian Education and the Journal of Navajo Education.

Dr. Rhodes takes a holistic, student and community centered approach to learning that views students as active learners and teachers acting as facilitators/coaches. The most valuable aspect of this book lies in the philosophical stance the author takes towards schooling, which urges educators to take a bottom up approach to schools that begins with them studying their students and their students' community.

The book begins with a very brief history of Indian education. Chapters two through five examine traditional views on education and how they contrast with mainstream America views. On pages 24 through 27 he contrasts the Native American worldview with the school's worldview, recognizing all the while that "when ideas are presented in such abbreviated form, there is much room for misunderstanding or misinterpretation" (p. 23).

Chapters six through fifteen examine how, why, what, and from whom American Indian students learn. In these chapters Dr. Rhodes examines research on brain dominance, learning styles, whole language, testing, motivation, discipline, and so forth. The last chapter on "What Works" is a list of seventeen sensible recommendations for Indian educators.

Nurturing Learning in Native American Students deals well with elementary education and community issues but lacks material on secondary education, bilingual education, and teaching English as a second language. Throughout the book, Dr. Rhodes tries to move the focus of education from school subjects and curriculum to students and families.

He writes "I am suggesting that by focusing on students, the learning process, and student needs, an interdisciplinary approach to curriculum development is more likely to be successful" (p. 130), however the shape of this new interdisciplinary curriculum remains vague and thus somewhat unhelpful to educators trying to build a curriculum.

I think Dr. Rhodes is too idealistic and optimistic in his expectations that teachers will all "develop their own curriculum" (p. 131). In fact, I would argue that this is a recipe for teacher burnout, especially when teachers are trying to develop native language and bilingual curriculum. Likewise, expecting the students to be a major force in the development of a total curriculum is idealistic to the extreme.

For teachers to be guides, they need a road map of where they and their students are going. It would seem sensible that each of our road maps should share some common characteristics when we are in the same general location, working with students having a common culture. It can be argued that if we all try to be cartographers, we will have little time to be be educators. Likewise, if we are coaches, we will not accomplish much if there is no game with common rules that we are coaching the students to play.

Nurturing Learning in Native American Students would benefit from the addition of descriptions of programs that have developed in reservation community schools over the past thirty years of Indian self-determination. Such descriptions could help novice educators going through some of the frustrations of each of us trying to "reinvent the wheel."

1Sonwai Books, P.O. Box 56, Hotevilla, AZ 86030.

Affirmative Action
NABE News September 15, 1995, Vol. 19, No. 1.
Jon Reyhner

Affirmative action is a current hot issue defended on one side by President Clinton and castigated on the other side by Presidential Candidate Pete Wilson. I have generally been a proponent of affirmative action, but this renewed debate has caused me t o think more on the issue.

Two relatively recent publications have shed light for me on affirmative action. The first is a book: Richard White's new history of the American West Its Your Misfortune and None of My Own. White clearly shows how discrimination is not, as one frequently hears, a thing of the distant past. Perhaps the most telling example is in World War II. When the munitions factories, airplane manufacturers, and shipbuilders were in desperate need of skilled labor they called upon Indians, Hispanics, and Blacks. But when the majority group soldiers came home, these same minorities were relegated back to unskilled jobs.

The second publication is David Berliner's 1993 article titled "Mythology and the American System of Education" that documents both that our public schools are not failing majority group students and that our schools are turning out more than enough scientists and other professionals to fill available "quality" jobs.

There were and are not enough relatively high paying jobs in most fields for those who have the ability to do them and want them. I have applied for jobs where I was competing with over a hundred other applicants. Perhaps twenty of those applicants were minorities. Even if no minorities applied for the job, there would be many disappointed applicants. I think affirmative action and minority job applicants have become a scapegoat for disappointed majority applicants.

We as a nation have a faith in education. We tell students if they just study hard in school they can be successful. But as Ogbu (1978) and other have pointed out, if students do not see their educated peers getting jobs, they will not listen to the national rhetoric. Deyhle (1992) found that Navajo youth who finished high school got the same low status jobs as their dropout peers, when they could get them.

One of the long term efforts in the Bureau of Indian Affairs has been to provide jobs within the Bureau for educated Indians, because they need jobs and because the Bureau had to live up to the faith the U.S. Government put in the schools it forced upon Indians. This absolute preference in hiring within the Bureau of Indian Affairs has been affirmed by congress and the courts.

The bilingual and Indian education programs that are now under the budget ax have not always lived up to the rhetoric of the proposals written to get funding, but they have provided jobs and a career ladder for minorities.

We are just finishing a long hot summer, and we have had no rioting and cities burning as we had in the sixties. Before we balance the budget on the backs of these programs designed to help minorities, we need think of the costs of the lost hope of minorities in the "system," which has historically systematically relegated them to third class educations (Kozol, 1991) and third class jobs.


Berliner, D. (1993). Mythology and the American system of education. Phi Delta Kappan, 74, 632-640.

Deyhle, D. (1992). Constructing failure and maintaining cultural identity: Navajo and Ute school leavers. Journal of American Indian Education, 31(2), 24-47.

Kozol, J. (1991). Savage inequalities. New York: Crown.

Ogbu. J.U. (1978). Minority education and caste. The American system in Cross-cultural perspective. New York: Academic.

White, R. (1993). Its your misfortune and none of my own. Norman: University of Oklahoma.

Two Tribal Language Preservation Efforts
NABE News May 1, 1996, Vol. 19, No. 6.
Jon Reyhner

The National Indian Policy Center at The George Washington University has just published in February, 1996, Christine P. Sims' Native Language Communities: A Descriptive Study of Two Community Efforts to Preserve their Native Languages. In this publication Sims, Principal Researcher for The Linguistic Institute for Native Americans (P.O. Box 11339, Albuquerque, NM), examines the language preservation efforts being made by the Karuk of Northern California and the Zia of New Mexico

The Karuk became a federally recognized tribe in 1979 after surviving some of the worst treatment of any tribal groups in the United States. During the gold rush period their villages were burned and they were forcibly relocated. The Karuk language has suffered the fate of many California indigenous languages, and it is estimated that there are only ten or twelve fluent Karuk speakers today.

A Karuk Language Restoration Committee was formed in 1988 with a core membership of ten, and the committee was sanctioned by the Tribal Council in 1993. The committee formulated five strategies to promote the use of Karuk:

  1. Recording of the elders;
  2. Developing new fluent speakers over an extended period of time;
  3. Community education about language restoration and cultural preservation;
  4. Community involvement in designing and evaluating a Karuk language restoration program; and lastly,
  5. Promoting community participation in activities where the language could be used. (Sims, 1996, p. 20)
An earlier twenty-year effort by Humboldt State University at Arcata, California, to teach Kurok in the schools starting in the 1960s had limited effect but did result in the realization that the Karuk people and their history and culture were alive and an important to the area's history. Not enough time was available in school to teach Kurok, the teaching methods were not always the best, and it was not used outside of school by the children.

The big change that occurred in 1988 with the formation of the Language Restoration Committee "was the personal commitment that individual tribal members have made to ensure the continuance of traditions that are a part of Karuk life" (Sims, 1996, p. 2 3). The new grass-roots efforts include Karuk Language Immersion Camps for children, Karuk language and cultural instruction for elementary school children, an adult Master-Apprentice Language Program, college classes in Karuk, involvement in native language advocacy organizations, publication of Karuk language materials, and development of Karuk literature.

More effective language instruction methods now being used include Communication-Based Instruction and Total Physical Response (TPR). "Karuk language lessons . . . follow a specific pattern of introducing children to vocabulary, phrases, questions, and commands requiring children to listen, observe, and act upon what they hear and see the teacher doing" (Sims, 1996, pp. 26-27). Students often rapidly master the language patterns and vocabulary to the point where they almost catch up to the instructors' language abilities. Language lessons involve as much time to plan as they do to teach. Sims outlines a five step lesson plan being used that does not rely on either memorizing word lists or points of grammar. The five steps include setting the stage, providing comprehensible input, guided practice, independent practice, and assessment. "Children and teachers are taught how to use Karuk for the everyday purposes of communicating their needs and to converse with each other" (Sims, 1996, p. 29). The first language immersion camp was held in the summer of 1992. Karuk is also being offered in schools, but this instruction is being threatened by budget cuts.

The Master-Apprentice model was specifically designed for languages where only a few elderly speakers survive (See Hinton, 1990/91, 1992, 1994/95). The first Karuk master-apprentice teams consisting of an elder fluent Karuk speaker and a non-fluent Karuk adult were formed in 1993. Training was received from a group called Advocates for California Indigenous Language Survival, which met in 1992 to discuss different strategies for reviving California tribal languages. Trainers suggest the following guidelines for Master-Apprentice Language Learning Teams:

  1. Use meaningful contexts in which language can be heard and utilized in a natural way rather than through rote learning or memorization.
  2. Respond to and ask questions in the Native language rather than relying on English to ask how something is said in the native tongue.
  3. Make "gentle" corrections during language learning situations, utilizing similar types of strategies in which first languages are acquired and learned, such as when corrections are embedded in restatements of what the learner is trying to say. (Hinton, 1994/95)
In addition to the Master-Apprentice program, the provision college classes for adults created "a more visible status for the language in public settings" (Sims, 1996, p. 23). The publication of Now You're Speaking Karuk: A Beginner's Guide to Conversational Karuk in 1994 was also useful.

The Zia situation is different because the original Zia Pueblo has survived and almost all adults are fluent in the language. However, children, while understanding the language, are not speaking it. They use conversational English but lack academic competence in English that would allow them to be successful in school. The Zia Day School in 1990 had no certified ZIA teachers. Three Zia teacher aides were sent to the Summer Institute of Linguistics for Native Americans (SILNA) for language training in 1991, 92, and 93, but administrative turnover at the school has prevented full implementation of a bilingual program that supported both learning academic English and the conversational use of the Zia language.

The Zia Head Start program is staffed by fluent speakers of the language, but they lack training in how children acquire first and second languages. Children are entering the program dominant in English. "No systematic plan or methodology [is] in place to help children develop their Native language skills" and there is a lack of intergenerational activities that would expose younger children in the Head Start program to Zia speaking adults (Sims, 1996, p. 69). The Zia Day Care situation is similar.

Efforts at indigenous language maintenance used to focus on bilingual education programs in schools after the passage of the Bilingual Education Act of 1968 and the Indian Education Act of 1972. However, there is increasing recognition that schools are not the best place to teach conversational language, especially if there is a desire to see the language used outside of school (Cantoni, 1996). Grass roots, bottom-up programs that encourage grandparents, parents, and other adults to use indigenous languages with young children outside of school have a better hope of success. With the intergenerational transmission of tribal languages secured, schools can develop native language literacy in tribal languages and do other things to help children maintain and develop what has already been learned.

Note: Go to more information on Pueblo language revival efforts


Cantoni, G. (Ed.) (1996). Stabilizing indigenous languages. Flagstaff: Northern Arizona University.

Hinton, L. (1990/91). How to learn your language. News from Native California, 5(1), 34-36.

Hinton, L. (1992, Fall). Keeping the languages alive. News from Native California, 6, 25-31.

Hinton, L. (1994/95, Winter/Fall). Preserving the future. News from Native California, 8, 14-20.

Sims, C. (1996). Native language communities: A descriptive study of two community efforts to preserve their native languages. Washington, D.C.: National Indian Policy Center, The George Washington University.

Citizen or Subject: Part I
NABE News June 15, 1996, Vol. 19, No. 7
Jon Reyhner

The privilege of being born in the U.S.A. is U.S. citizenship. Being a citizen is opposed to being a subject. A subject passively obeys the government. A citizen actively participates in government, and historically in the United States citizens have chosen to try to keep government to a minimum necessary for the well being of all citizens. Well being is defined in the Declaration of Independence as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

What makes people happy is culturally defined. One person's and one group's goals for happiness can be very different from another's, and, traditionally in this country, if those goals have not imposed on another person's or group's goals, they have be en respected.

As jet transportation and satellite communication tie the world together more closely we are becoming citizens of the world, but Americans remain relatively unique in the world as mostly monolingual individuals. Our most prestigious universities recognize the value of multilingualism by requiring a second language in high school for admission and even more second language coursework for graduation, but on the whole we do not value multilingualism.

For example, all three public universities in Arizona require four semesters of college level coursework in a second language for their B.A. degrees in liberal arts. The armed forces, the Central Intelligence Agency, and multi-national corporations all seek to recruit multilingual employees, but they have difficulties because our country does not value bilingualism, as the push for what has been termed "English-only" legislation indicates. These employers seek to avoid hiring "ugly Americans" who will offend and antagonize potential buyers and clients from other countries owing to their ignorance of the languages, customs, and taboos of other cultures.

If a citizen in this country cannot choose, or more accurately retain, the culture of their choice, then their liberty and citizenship rights are severely limited. Intimately tied to culture are both language and religion. Through language we pass on our culture to our children. Many argue that language and culture cannot be disconnected. Thus, I discuss in this column whether citizenship rights are severely curtailed if fellow citizens and their government refuse to allow cultural minorities to be educated and to exercise citizenship rights in the language of their choice.

Minimal government

In an era when most politicians and citizens are calling again for less government, including less government regulation over and intrusion into our lives, it is interesting that the front-running Republican candidates in 1996 for the presidential nomination called for a new law, or even a constitutional amendment, to make English the official language of this country. These candidates by their calls to make English the official language of the country are seeking to redefine the limits of citizens hip. Proponents of English as the official language see its dominance threatened and have called it the "glue" that holds us together.

There seems to be a natural paranoia associated with being in the presence of people speaking a language we do not understand. We seem to be suspicious about what they are talking about and fearful they are talking about, or even against, us. We are generally accepting of people who are like us and speak our language and fearful and distrustful of those who are different. This provincialism, or ethnocentrism as anthropologists term it, was less dangerous in ages past when people were isolated by poor transportation and poor communication, but today when we participate in a world economy with rapid transportation and virtually instantaneous communication, such provincialism carries new dangers.

Along with the paranoia of not understanding what minorities are talking about is the fear of the majority that they will become the new minority through both domestic population growth and massive immigration. The fear of the majority that they will be overwhelmed by the minorities in this country is certainly exaggerated. In a February 1996 statewide survey Arizonians estimated our American Indian population at over three times the actual figure. This random sample of Arizonians estimated that Indian s were 21% of the state's population when the actual figure is only 6%. Hispanics were estimated as 30% of the state's population when they actually only make up 20% of our population. This overestimation of our minority population by the general public reflects a nationwide phenomena. Similarly, the white population in Arizona is underestimated at 54% when it is actually 89% (The white non-Hispanic figure is 71%). Related to these misperceptions is the popular idea that most poor people and welfare recipients are racial minorities. In fact, two-thirds of the people who fall below the poverty line in the United States and most people on federal social service programs are white (Arizonians, 1996).

Opponents of English as an official language do not see the dominance of English in this country being threatened and see English as able to stand alone without government support. In fact, they cite research indicating that it is other, non-English languages that are threatened both in the United States and world-wide by English. They see this call for making English our official language coming at a time when English, without any legal help, is becoming the language of world communication and trade through a process analogous to the competitive free market economy.

It is no coincidence that the United States has gone for over 200 years without an official language. The colonists who came here were very vocal about wanting freedom and less government interference with their lives. Religion was more on their minds than language, but when language came up, no action was taken to hinder the liberty of individuals or communities to choose to use a language other than English. English came to dominate this country mostly through forces of the marketplace and mass communication, not by laws, government regulation, or other forced methods, excepting of course in schools on Indian reservations and in the southwest where there was a forceful suppression of non-English languages in the name of Americanism.

Language suppression for national unity

Throughout the nation restrictive language legislation is being proposed and passed. In Arizona, the desire to make English the official language of the state and its public schools was demonstrated with the passage of Arizona Proposition 106 in 1988, which is still being litigated. Different people and groups have different reasons for supporting official status for the English language. Most of these reasons revolve around the perceived "disuniting of America" through increased immigration, high minority birth rates, and the disintegration of traditional institutions such as the family. Proponents of measures such as Proposition 106 point to the current troubles in Quebec and other parts of the world to promote their "Official English" or "English-Only" agenda. The perception is that if immigrants and minorities are required to use English when they exercise their citizenship rights to schooling, the ballot box, and the courts that they will become more like mainstream Americans and more supportive of traditional America n institutions.

Opponents of language legislation maintain that the problems in Quebec and Canada go far beyond language into religion and economics, yet no responsible persons are heard to demand a common religion or a common pay scale. They point at Northern Ireland where the residents share a common language to support their assertion that civil conflict can occur when one element of the population feels discriminated against. Even in the strife torn lands of the former Yugoslavia, they point to the fact that the warring factions speak dialects of a common language.

Multilingualism alone does not cause political instability. One of the oldest stable countries in the world, Switzerland, gives evidence of this fact even though the home countries of its major languages, France, Germany, and Italy, have a long history of conflict. An attitude of tolerance towards differences, including language differences, can promote civic peace.

Implications of English-only for citizenship

Government policies that dictate linguistic and cultural behavior for citizens limit liberty and marginalize citizens who strongly hold to their cultural roots. Just as the pilgrims were forced to leave England and then chose to leave Holland because they wanted their children to grow up practicing Puritan religious teachings and speaking English, there are minority groups in this country who feel they are under attack. Under attack not because they are unproductive or anti-social members of society, but only because they are different.

American Indians are one minority group who have been marginalized in this country and who have been denied civil and citizenship rights. Despite the fact that American Indians as a group became U.S. citizens in 1924 with the passage of the Indian Citizenship Act, Arizona, New Mexico, and other states continued to deny them basic rights of citizenship, including the right to vote into the 1950s through property and other requirements. Other restrictions also applied. A current University of Arizona professor described to me a few years ago how while she was in the U.S. Navy , she had to drive from Tucson to New Mexico to get married because of Arizona's anti-miscegenation law. She was Indian and her husband-to-be was white.

Arizona teachers and students tell of being forbidden in school to use their native language and being punished when they did not obey. Polingaysi Qöyawayma, officially an "Arizona Indian Living Treasure," described in her autobiography No Turning Back how she was at first eager to use her language as at teacher to help teach her Hopi students and then was disappointed when told it was forbidden. She defied her Bureau of Indian Affairs supervisors and continued to use Hopi to help explain t he "white man's education" to her students in the early 1930s (White, 1964). In 1973 my wife, then teaching Navajo-language-dominant kindergarten students at Chinle Elementary School in Arizona received a written reprimand for using Navajo because Arizona still required English as the sole language of instruction in all public schools. It was not just the language that was suppressed, traditional religious practices were also either discouraged or forbidden. The Navajo Reservation was described as an "American Colony" in a 1975 Civil Rights Commission Report.

Consequences of discrimination and marginalization include "dropping out," which is characterized by the large percentage of American citizens who do not vote, and radicalization, as seen in the American Indian Movement (AIM), Black Panthers, and Brown Berets, where citizens not seeing the government responding to their needs attempt to use violence or the threat of violence to get attention for their "demands." Neither consequence is healthy for democracy. The alternative put forward by the National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE) and other advocates of bilingual and bicultural education is an "English plus" philosophy that they think is both good for families and for America's ability to compete in a global, multilingual world that is being brought ever closer together through telecommunications and air travel (Simon, 1980).

Some see speaking languages other than English as un-American, others just see it as an unnecessary burden on the taxpayer. However, bilingual education is only more expensive than monolingual education if the regular teachers lack the educational and linguistic skills they need to deal with their students and need to be supplemented with a parallel system of better trained English-as-a-second-language and bilingual teachers.

In a sense, monolingualism and monoculturalism are a set of blinders that limits our ability to see the possibilities of humanity and limits our view of citizenship. Bilingualism and multiculturalism opens new possibilities for all. These new possibilities seem to frighten conservatives but are the stuff of democratic citizenship. America was founded on the idea that government can be improved, and that through freedom of speech and of the press citizens should be exposed to all the possibilities and should have the power to even amend the constitution to improve our way of life. It will be ironic if a unique governmental system designed for free expression, expansion, and improvement is changed to shut off discussion in other languages.

On October 6, 1995 The Arizona Republic reported how Proposition 106 was again ruled unconstitutional by the courts, but that can change if the U.S. Constitution is changed as "English-only" forces are advocating. As the sociolinguist Joshua Fishman maintains, in our concern with individual civil rights we tend to forget group cultural rights. In fact, one can argue in our preoccupation with individual rights, we have lost sight of cultural responsibilities towards family, culture, and God. Citizenship is more than the right to participate in government. It is also implies a responsibility to get along with one's fellow citizens through tolerance, compromise, consensus, and cooperation.

We also fail to recognize the strengths inherent in cultural diversity. At the 1995 NABE conference in Phoenix, Arizona Senator John McCain recognized the contributions of the Navajo Code Talkers (Navajo marines who used their Navajo language to make an unbreakable radio code) to our success in fighting the Japanese in the Pacific during World War II. This contribution to our country's war effort could never have been made if the government's efforts to suppress the Navajo language through schooling ha d been successful.

Note: This is an expanded version of an essay done for a discussion document for the 1996 Arizona Town Hall, "Community Participation, Arizona's Future: Redefining Citizenship." The conclusion of this essay will be in the next issue of the NABE News.


Arizonians Misperceive Racial, Ethnic Group Sizes. (1996, April 1). Mountain Campus News, 9(37), 3.

Simon, Paul . (1980). The Tongue-Tied American: Confronting the Foreign Language Crisis. New York: Continuum.

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. (1975). The Navajo Nation: An American Colony. Washington, DC: Author. My wife's reprimand described above is noted on page 205.

White , Elizabeth (Polingaysi Qöyawayma). (1964). No Turning Back: A Hopi Indian Woman's Struggle to Live in Two Worlds (as told to Vada F. Carlson). Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. Like most Indians, Polingaysi was arbitrarily given an English name, first Betsy and then Elizabeth White, with no consultation with her family when she started school.

Citizen or Subject: Part II
NABE News August 1, 1996, Vol. 19, No. 8.
Jon Reyhner

Today the fruits of past policies of language repression are ripening. Minority languages, especially American Indian languages are rapidly dying out. In 1990 Congress recognized passed injustices, perhaps too late, and passed the Native American Languages Act (P.L. 101-407). Congress found in this Act that "the status of the cultures and languages of Native Americans is unique and the United States has the responsibility to act together with Native Americans to ensure the survival of these unique cultures and languages." Congress made it the policy of the United States to "preserve, protect, and promote the rights and freedom of Native Americans to use, practice, and develop Native American languages." Furthermore, the act declared that "the right of Native Americans to express themselves through the use of Native American languages shall not be restricted in any public proceeding, including publicly supported education programs."

Government suppression of American Indian languages, cultures, and religions have violated the liberty of our Indian citizens to be who they want to be. There are different forms of slavery, and of being a subject rather than a citizen. One form of slavery ended at the Civil War was the forced labor of blacks, but there is another form of slavery that says "you will be like us" whether you like it or not. This form of forced conformity is still being imposed on ethnic minorities in this country to the detriment of full and equal citizenship for these groups.

As American Indian languages die, the accumulated wisdom of their cultures as to how people should live together and with nature dies, and that wisdom is often not replaced with any better wisdom from the dominant culture. Thus functioning American Indian communities and families are destroyed, leaving in their wake instant slums and dysfunctional families.

Much damage has been done to American Indian communities by a century of removal, often forced, of their children to boarding schools. Early missionaries described how Indian parents doted on their children, "loving them beyond all things." In many tribal cultures, physical punishment of children was unacceptable. Children were taught to endure pain stoically, and the ability to accept pain without emotion was a sign of maturity. In this way of thinking, punishing through pain did not make sense. Teasing, ostracism, peer pressure, and other alternatives were used to maintain discipline. In addition, tribal stories described how children who went outside the bounds of tribal custom were often severely punished by supernatural powers.

Although North American tribes spoke some 600 different languages, had different religions, and lived in different ways, George A. Pettitt (1946) found similarities in child-rearing practices among tribes. He found that central to native education practices was training for survival. If crying would give away a band to the enemy, then babies were taught not to cry. Knowledge of tribal traditions was a second necessity for a child's education. Through ceremonies, storytelling, and apprenticeship, children learned the culture of their parents. Play was another way to educate Indian children. Pretty Shield, a Crow, described putting up a play tent and going through all the household activities she would later take on for real when she married (Linderman, 1972). Children learned by observing and then copying what they saw.

While Indians were often considered "dirty," many tribes continued to bathe through the winter when European settlers sewed themselves up in their long underwear for the duration. Indians were also perceived as "lazy," but they often lived a hard life that required constant effort to survive. Navajo children were taught to get up before dawn and run to greet the sun to gain the endurance necessary for a successful life. They were seen to be without religion, but Navajos still think all public occasions , despite our constitutional separation of church and state, should be opened with prayer. And of course their languages were often considered only "barbarous dialects" despite the beauty of songs like the Navajo Night Chant. Negative perceptions about American Indian, such as those described above, permeated the mainstream culture and the educational materials used in Indian schools. Little or nothing was said about how Navajo religion centered around keeping healthy and "walking in beauty."

Forced assimilation

Missionaries and later Bureau of Indian Affairs and public school teachers disturbed what had been successful, functioning societies. Rarely did they study native customs before they sought to change them. Some would learn a tribal language, but few would come to appreciate a tribal culture. Indian religions were simply false. They often saw Indian societies already disintegrating from the onslaught of guns and diseases introduced from Europe, but these societies continue to hang on to this day.

Indian children were traditionally taught citizenship. They lived in communities without locks, jails, or banks and both learned to respect and to share personal property and land, at least within their own tribe or band if not with outsiders. They were often taught that "we are all related" and through extended families and clans learned their obligations to other people and to the natural world in which they lived. These obligations formed the cement that allowed their communities to survive.

On the other hand, in the boarding schools the U.S. government forced them to attend, Indian children did not learn the decision-making and parenting skills they needed to bring up their own children and to become members of a democratic community. They were marched around and told what to do from dawn to dusk, and "disciplinarians" and dorm matrons were their parental role models. Thus they were taught in the regimented culture of the government Indian schools to be good subjects and to obey the rules , rather than to be citizens who helped make the rules. Learning from this environment they tended to order their own children around once they became parents.

Not only did non-Indian missionaries, government officials, and teachers fail to recognize the strengths in American Indian cultures, they also failed to see that their attempts to replace those cultures with an "American" culture usually resulted in a person caught between two cultures and made susceptible to depression, alcoholism, and other forms of personal and social disintegration such as joining gangs and using illegal drugs. Thus, by taking way their culture and language, potentially good citizens have been unintentionally turned into dysfunctional citizens.

Cultural revival efforts

Efforts to revive minority languages and cultures are not unpatriotic. Rather, they are motivated by a desire to conserve the cultural strengths of the past and to train good citizens. Minority enclaves in the United States need not threaten "mainstream" Americans. Such Amish, Hutterite, and Hasidic enclaves exist today without any threat to this country's stability. One only needs to go to an American Indian "Pow Wow" to see how both our flag and our war veterans are honored to realize this truth.

When I have asked American Indian elders what they want for their grandchildren, I get the answer that they want them to respect their elders, work hard, study in school, not to drink, and, of course, to remember that they are Indian. These are all marks of true citizenship. Traditional American Indian languages and cultures do not threaten citizenship, rather, for the most part, they encourage it.

The education "Mission Statement" passed by the Navajo Tribal Council in 1984 includes besides the "3 Rs" the following as appropriate for Navajo people:

1. competence in English language skills and knowledge of American culture;
2. competence in Navajo language skills and knowledge of Navajo culture;
3. the development of Navajo and United States citizenship; and
4. self-discipline and a positive self-concept.
The school at Ganado, Arizona, on the Navajo Reservation used to have a sign at its entrance reading "Tradition is the Enemy of Progress." However, most American Indians today who are working to relearn their languages and cultures and pass them on to their children also want their children to get the best education possible. The American Indian Science and Engineering Society both promotes American Indian students taking up modern technologically-oriented careers and advocates them learning more about their Indian heritages. Studies on the Navajo Reservation have shown that students who are more "traditional," who have held on to their language and culture, do better in school (Deyhle, 1992).

Television, radio, and videos are the great teachers of both American culture and English, and the American culture they teach is not the "family values" that former Vice President Dan Quayle called for. They are not even the values of TV's Murphy Brown. They are the values of our popular culture, Madonna, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Texas Chain Saw Massacre-type videos and a hedonistic drug culture. We have worked in our Arizona schools to cut minorities off from their cultures and families through a quite explicit policy of cultural and linguistic assimilation, and the unintended results have been more alcoholism, drugs, and gangs.

Cultural transmission

Good citizenship comes down to a set of behaviors that allows for active participation in government through tolerance, compromise, consensus, and cooperation. These human relation skills have not improved through technology. Rather they are related to a cultural tradition of survival found in the traditional wisdom of age-old American Indian and other cultures that is transmitted from generation to generation, primarily in the home using the native language of the parents. The oppositional traits of bad citizenship that promote societal disintegration are intolerance, racism, bigotry, and unbridled competition.

It can be argued that we can ensure the transmission of family and civic values to each new generation by supporting family and local community efforts. We undermine those efforts when we demand minority cultures speak only English. According to Chet Bowers, Arizona needs to move towards a more "conserving" education that turns away from the idea that progress and change are automatically good, that individualism is automatically best, and that consumerism and materialism should be promoted at the expense of traditional values. He and others argue that our current consumer-oriented culture is destroying our environment and is not sustainable in the long term. There is a great deal of concern today about how the national debt is burdening our children a nd grandchildren. The national debt is only money; we would do well to be equally concerned with the pollution, degraded environment, and plundered natural resources we are leaving our descendants. Eastern Indian tribes traditionally considered the effect on future generations before making major decisions. They say that we have not inherited this land from our ancestors; rather we have borrowed it from our children.

Bowers argues for a conservative move back from "student-centered" learning to "trans-generational" communication where "the elders of the culture must be recognized as carriers of essential knowledge and values" (Bowers, 1995, p. 135). With such a move, students would be taught "how individuals are nested in culture, and culture in ecosystems" (Bowers, 1995, p. 135). To paraphrase John Kennedy, such an education would teach students to think about what they can do for their country and the planet they live on rather than just what our country and planet can do for them.


It is a mistake to overly idealize traditional Indian life. While they usually treated their own tribal members pretty well, they often had no such consideration for members of other tribes. One of the major achievements of this country was to link together thirteen disparate colonies into a larger union that respected the rights of its many white citizens, including their cultural and linguistic rights. Some note, as Benjamin Franklin did, that this idea for this union of states was not unique, and was foreshadowed by the League of the Iroquois.

Progress has been made by enlarging our sense of who is a member of our tribe, who are our bothers and sisters, and who are worthy of our respect and good faith. The questions all Americans need to think about are:

  1. Should language any more than religion, race, or geographical boundaries determine who we include as members of our tribe?
  2. Ultimately for our survival, should we not seek to work on a sense of world citizenship based on a tolerance of linguistic, cultural, religious, and racial differences?
  3. Can we have either regional or world peace if we cannot overcome the ethnocentrism that makes one culture claim superiority for its language and folkways and dominance over another?
Few will argue that we do not need to perpetuate family and community values and a tolerance of diversity in Arizona, the United States, and the World. The question is how do we accomplish this tolerance?

The English language has done extremely well in the free market place, and does not seem to need any legal help. The renewal of traditional American Indian cultures in and out of school is re-establishing a sense of community and fighting the materialistic, hedonistic, and individualistic forces of modern America. More and more American Indians, Mexican Americans, and other Americans see restoring strong traditional families and communities as their most important goal. The final question I ask all Americans to think about is: Should we place linguistic, cultural, religious, or other barriers in the way of these efforts, and in the process, I argue, create subjects rather than citizens?

Note: This is an expanded version of an essay done for a discussion document for the 1996 Arizona Town Hall "Community Participation, Arizona's Future: Redefining Citizenship." The beginning of this essay was in the previous issue of the NABE News.


Bowers, C. A. (1995). Educating for an Ecologically Sustainable Educating for an Ecologically Sustainable Culture: Re-thinking Moral Education, Creativity, Intelligence, and Other Modern Orthodoxies. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.

Deyhle, Donna. (1992). Constructing Failure and Maintaining Cultural Identity: Navajo and Ute School Leavers. Journal of American Indian Education, 31(2), 24-47.

Linderman, Frank . (1972). Pretty Shield: Medicine Woman of the Crow. Lincoln: University of Nebraska. (First published as Red Mother in 1932).

Pettitt, G. A. (1946). Primitive education in North America. Berkeley: University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology.

NABE's 1997 American Indian Institute
NABE News March 15, 1997, Vol. 20, No. 5.
Jon Reyhner

The Native American Institute at this year's NABE in Albuquerque, coordinated by Michelle Paisano-Schwebach and Anita Tsinnajinnie, had a very interesting variety of presentations. Because of the way sessions were scheduled concurrently, I was not able to get to all of them, but I was able to attend one strand of presentations that concentrated on Laguna and Cochiti Pueblo efforts in New Mexico to maintain and revive their languages, which represent two different dialects of the Keres language family.

Christine Sims of The Linguistic Institute for Native Americans talked about the history of Native American language development and efforts currently under development in New Mexico. She related how the 1970s were a period of development of linguistic coursework, orthography and materials for school programs that focused on teachers and paraprofessionals working in schools.

However, according to Sims, "Schools have not produced fluent speakers of language." She finds that there is now increasing recognition that "It takes a whole community to preserve a language" and that language is transmitted by individuals rather than by school programs.

Today, in the 1990s, Sims sees the focus changing to community-based language planning, materials development, and heritage language teaching that is centering on fluent speakers of the language and elders. In the same span of years from the 1970s to the 1990s children ceased coming to school speaking her native language of Acoma and other American Indian languages. She finds that community members are often "in denial" about the endangered state of their language, and they need to understand what is going on in their community that is contributing to language loss.

Sims' experiences have told her that writing a language, computers, language tapes, and "canned" approaches brought in from the outside will not keep a language alive. Community members need to actually use the language with other speakers, and fluent speakers need to learn the best methods for language teaching. Knowing how to speak a language and being able to teach it are two different things, and the purpose of teaching indigenous languages is so a child can become an integral part of the community and connect with other speakers and access their wisdom. For example, at Cochiti older fluent speaking women are meeting with younger women in their homes and doing things together while at the same time teaching and using the language so that the less fluent women are learning the Keres language.

According to Sims, recent language teaching methods that have been adapted for use in these Keres communities discourage translation and promote immersion. Learners that are immersed in a new language absorb its sounds and rhythms. If translation is used, the learner tends to ignore the language they do not understand and wait for the translation.

In the immersion method it is important not to put the initial emphasis on correct pronunciation, but rather to "get across meaning." It is a given that the learners will not understand everything at the start, and things need to be kept simple. As Stephen Krashen notes, beginning lessons need to be shaped around simple activities that are interesting to the learner. Fluent speakers need time, planning, and training to teach their language effectively to others.

According to Leanne Hinton's experience with the Master-Apprentice model in California, described in her 1994 book Flutes of Fire, it takes about 500 hours of instruction/practice for the learner to achieve basic communicative fluency in their new language. Learners need someone they can go to for help, and it takes a lifetime to become fully fluent in a language.

Relearning indigenous languages is part of a healing process for communities that are facing social problems. A Cochiti Pueblo language activist noted that one of the major things she has done is turn off the television during suppertime so that her family could talk. In another Keres community a fluent speaker posted a "Laguna Only" sign in her home. The idea of reviving an indigenous language is not about going back to the way things were 100 years ago. New words have to be developed to talk about new foods, computers, and the like.

Christine Sims is currently a consultant for the Laguna Middle School Language Immersion Project in New Mexico. At Laguna they have been identifying language issues, community resources, and training needs. They are providing instruction for basic conversational language use and find that three years of middle school instruction is not enough for fluency.

A key with middle school students is to "create a positive attitudinal foundation for language learning." The students need to recognize that they "are a very special group of kids." Children have to want to learn the language. Laguna is taught the first thing in the morning at the school during "prime time," the first hour every morning for three days a week, rather than in the afternoon when the students are less alert. There are ten students per class with a team of fluent speakers. The "best way for children to learn the language is to hear fluent speakers use it among themselves."

Students also attended a one week summer immersion camp, and fluent speakers received two months of training before the camp was held. Issues discussed in the training included "how and when do you correct someone in a positive way," "how do we group ourselves," and "how do we check what kids have learned." The camp was planned hour by hour to provide the children with a maximum exposure to Laguna.

The participants were surprised at how much the kids learned in one week, but the instructors needed to be prepared for a "silent period" at the beginning when students did not utter a word and then for a period of time when they mimicked their teachers. Optimally, one speaker of the language is needed for every child.

By the second day of the camp, children wanted to try speaking Laguna. Kids were not discouraged from answering in English, but they were answered back in Laguna. Oral language was emphasized, and a lot of tangible objects and visual aides were used to make clear the meaning of what was being talked about. At both Laguna and Cochiti there is no written use of the language, everything is done as it was done traditionally, that is orally.

Lessons started by focusing on kids being able to identify who they were: their Indian name, their clans (everyone is related and relations are very important), greetings (how the community shows respect and courtesy for each other), and telling time (a natural way to learn numbers). The use of traditional greetings brought on an attitudinal change in the learners. Traditional cooking was also taught along with table manners. Lessons focused on practical things that students could use right away.

I have read and listened to a lot of information about teaching American Indian languages in the past few years, and I am finding out that programs showing success across the continent tend to share some common characteristics. These characteristics were discussed again and again in the sessions at this year's Native American Institute at NABE's annual meeting in Albuquerque.

Fourth Annual Stabilizing Indigenous Languages Symposium
NABE News August 1, 1997, Vol. 20, No. 8.
Jon Reyhner

The Fourth Annual Stabilizing Indigenous Languages Symposium "Sharing Effective Language Renewal Practices" was held at Northern Arizona University (NAU) in Flagstaff, Arizona, on May 2nd and 3rd with almost 300 indigenous language educators and activists in attendance. Sponsored by the NAU's Bilingual Multicultural Education and Navajo Language Programs, the Symposium provided a forum for American Indian language educators and activists through panels, workshops, and papers to share ideas and materials for teaching American Indian languages.

This sharing was done through 39 separate sessions, ranging from Alice Taff telling about teaching Deg Xinag (Ingalik Athabaskan) by long distance telephone to dispersed elders and their descendants, to Gordon Bronitsky describing how to publish American Indian authors' writings in their native languages overseas, to Rangi Nicholson describing efforts to popularize the Maori language in New Zealand through marketing strategies. Several sessions focused on the Total Physical Response (TPR) method o f teaching languages.

Keynote speeches included "The Power of Navajo Communication" by Dr. Evangeline Parsons Yazzie, Navajo language professor at NAU and Symposium Co-chair; "Some Rare and Radical Ideas for Native Language Preservation" by Dr. Richard Littlebear, Vice President of Dull Knife Memorial College; and "Keeping Indigenous Languages Alive: The School's Responsibility" by Dr. Gina Cantoni, NAU Regents Professor.

Throughout the Symposium there was both a sense of urgency based on the accelerated loss of indigenous languages and a sense of optimism based on the increasing awareness by tribal people that a concerted effort needs to be made to stem that loss. Despite recent tribal language policies and the 1990 and 1992 Native American Languages Acts passed by Congress, fewer and fewer children are speaking American Indian languages. Mass communication, marketing, and transportation are breaking down the isolation that allowed American Indian languages to survive despite government efforts to wipe them out.

While there is now a legal right to maintain indigenous languages in the United States, the rhetoric of tribal and federal policy statements has yet to become a reality in terms of widespread successful community and school language restoration programs. More needs to be done to disseminate effective native language teaching methods and materials to communities and schools. For example, Dr. Littlebear notes that the ability to speak an Indian language is often incorrectly seen as all that is needed to teach that language in schools.

The importance that indigenous people attach to their languages is described in Dr. Parsons Yazzie's 1995 NAU doctoral dissertation, A Study of Reasons for Navajo Language Attrition as Perceived by Navajo Speaking Parents. In it she describes how her Navajo informants felt about their language.

One informant told her, "It is through our language that safety is reached" and another, "Older people who speak only Navajo are alone . . . . When learning Navajo, children are just learning nouns without verbs or without the whole sentence, because of it children don't think too deep, their minds cannot grasp difficult concepts . . . . Culture can only be taught in Navajo; without language, knowledge cannot be transmitted."

A third informant told why he thought the Navajo language was being lost: "You are asking questions about the reasons that we are moving out of our language; I know the reason. The television is robbing our children of language . . . . It is not only at school that there are teachings, teachings are around us and from us there are also teachings. Our children should not sit around the television. Those who are mothers and fathers should have held their children close to themselves and taught them well, then our grandchildren would have picked up our language."

Dr. Parsons Yazzie concluded, "The use of the native tongue is like therapy, specific native words express love and caring. . . . Knowing the language presents one with a strong self-identity, a culture with which to identify, and a sense of wellness" and "elder Navajos want to pass on their knowledge and wisdom to the younger generation. Originally, this was the older people's responsibility. Today the younger generation does not know the language and is unable to accept the words of wisdom."

Symposium participants received a copy of Dr. Cantoni's 256 page monograph Stabilizing Indigenous Languages, the proceedings of the 1st and 2nd symposiums, upon arrival, and will receive by mail the proceedings of the Fourth Symposium in the fall. The Fifth Annual Stabilizing Indigenous Languages Conference will take place on May 14-16, 1998, in Louisville, Kentucky, at The Galt House East.

The Louisville conference theme was "Strategies for Language Renewal and Revitalization," and it is being co-chaired by Robert N. St. Clair and Evangeline Parson-Yazzie. Dr. St. Clair co-edited the 1982 National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education publication Language Renewal among American Indian Tribes: Issues, Problems, and Prospects.

For the Fifth Conference, the Co-chairs were especially interested in American Indian story telling and how this information can be used to create readers. They are also interested in American Indian art traditions and how this information can be used to teach philosophy of life. Furthermore, they seek workshops for beginners who want to start language and culture programs. They want those who are newcomers to join an extended family of teachers, researchers, parents, and who want to renew their traditions and revitalize their cultures. They seek strategies, insights, and knowledge.

Places of Memory: Whiteman's Schools and Native American Communities.
NABE News September 15, 1997, Vol. 21, No. 1.
Jon Reyhner

Alan Peshkin's new book Places of Memory: Whiteman's Schools and Native American Communities (Lawrence Erlbaum, 1997) tackles the question of why American Indian students' academic achievement is below average, even in Indian-controlled schools. According to Peshkin, American Indians have the lowest ACT scores and the highest dropout rate of any New Mexico ethnic group. He writes that 75% of Indian students who go to college leave in their first year.

At the "Indian High School" Peshkin studied in this book, low academic performance is not a case of Kozol's "savage inequalities" that prevent the school from hiring good teachers and having adequate facilities and instructional materials. This school receives a combination of Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) funding and various federal grants, and it is staffed with well educated teachers. The school had the highest percentage of Indian teachers of any high school in New Mexico. In addition, he found that the students' parents valued education.

Peshkin spent a year as an observer in this New Mexico boarding school (students went home on weekends) serving New Mexico's Pueblo Indians. The school meets State of New Mexico accreditation standards, and the goal of the school is to prepare students for college. But success was limited. Students would participate with sustained effort and enthusiasm in basketball, but "regrettably, I saw no academic counterpart to this stellar athletic performance" (p. 5).

Peshkin writes,

In class, students generally were well-behaved and respectful. They were not rude, loud, or disruptive. More often they were indifferent. . . . teachers could not get students to work hard consistently, to turn in assignments, to participate in class, or to take seriously . . . their classroom performance. (p. 5)
To explain why these students did not enthusiastically embrace education, Peshkin enlarges on the cultural discontinuity (two worlds) theory of academic failure that has been written about by others and provides evidence from students, parents, and teachers to support that theory. He makes a good argument for the "student malaise" he describes and for its sources in the ambivalent attitude of the Pueblos towards schooling.

Based on over four hundred years of contact with European immigrants, the Pueblos have good reason to be suspicious of anything European, and schools, even Indian-controlled ones with Indian administrators and Indian teachers as Peshkin points out, are basically alien institutions as far as Pueblo culture is concerned.

The New Mexican Pueblos, under cultural attack from all the forces of the majority society, are obsessed with cultural survival. Pueblo culture emphasizes fitting into the group and participating in the life of the village--"standing in" versus "standing out"--in contrast to the individualism found outside the Pueblo. "Schooling is necessary to become competent in the very world that Pueblo people perceive as rejecting them" (p. 107); school is a place of "becoming white" (p. 117).

According to Peshkin, "imbued with the ideal of harmony in their community life, Pueblo parents send their children to schools that promote cultural jangle" (p. 117). The sounds in the school are not discordant. The discordance is between what the Pueblo communities teach their young and what the schools teach, and this discordance goes far beyond just the matter of teaching Pueblo languages in the home and English in schools.

The United States used schools to try to assimilate Pueblo children into the dominant culture and worked to get them to forget their Pueblo religion, language, and culture. Today, we would call this a "subtractive" or "submersion" educational process. Thus while education is ostensibly supported by parents, "because the school is fundamentally an ambiguous institution [an Indian controlled school with an essentially non-Indian curriculum], ambivalence runs deep" (p. 112). Ambivalence is a poor motivator of academic success.

The major strength of Peshkin's book is the sophisticated examination of the workings of "Indian High School" and its relation to both the Pueblo communities and the dominant society. Another plus of this book is Peshkin's discussion of the ethics of research in American Indian communities. Peshkin did his research with the approval of the school board and agreed to avoid delving into the inner workings of Pueblo religion. I see the major weakness to be the lack of generalizability of Peshkin's research to other Native American communities because of the uniqueness of the Pueblo Indians and because the author does little to synthesize his work with other in-depth studies of Indian schools, such as Daniel McLaughlin's When Literacy Empowers: Navajo Language in Print (University of New Mexico Press, 1992).

McLaughlin's book is a study of a Navajo community with a school that, unlike Peshkin's "Indian High School," has a very successful K-12 maintenance bilingual program that stresses both Navajo Studies and reading and writing in Navajo. The Pueblos have resisted literacy in their own languages as something "white." This resistance by the Pueblos has probably been strengthened because the initial proponents of native language literacy were missionaries who used reading and writing to more quickly introduce Indians to the Bible, catechisms, hymns, and other materials in their own language in order to promote conversion to Christianity.

It is sad if schooling is seen as a "white" or "Anglo" thing that, if whole heartily embraced, threatens Pueblo tribal and family values. Perhaps a larger world view than American schools usually offer could correct this narrow vision through an examination of education in Asian and other non-white and non-European cultures.

Teaching Indigenous Languages
NABE News November 1, 1997, Vol. 21, No. 2.
Jon Reyhner

Teaching Indigenous Languages, the proceedings of the 4th Annual Stabilizing Indigenous Languages Symposium held at Northern Arizona University in May 1997, is scheduled for publication this month. This paperback book contains 24 papers related to teaching indigenous languages. In the first section NAU Regents Professor Gina Cantoni discusses the role that schools can play in teaching indigenous languages and Arizona State University Center for Indian Education Director Octaviana Trujillo describes her Pasqua Yaqui Tribe's approach to language development.

The second section has six papers describing various efforts to teach indigenous languages. The first paper by Steve Greymorning of the University of Montana describes the Arapaho language immersion program on the Wind River Reservation in Montana. Other papers in this section describe efforts to teach indigenous languages over the telephone and through reviving traditional dances.

The third section describes efforts at teacher education. The first paper describes the American Indian Language Development Institute, which is now 19 years old and is currently held every summer at the University of Arizona in Tucson. The second paper by Joyce Silverthorne describes the professional training needed by teachers of indigenous languages.

The fourth section has five papers on curriculum and materials development. The first two articles describe the development of an Apache language textbook. The first paper by Willem de Reuse describes the experience from a linguists point of view while the second paper by Bernadette Adley-SantaMaria reflects on the same effort from the Apache speakers point of view. Another paper describes newly developed university indigenous language courses. The final paper in this section is the reproduction of a Hupa language teacher's guide edited by Ruth Bennett of Humboldt State University.

The fifth section contains four papers centered around peoples attitudes towards indigenous languages. The first paper is by Rangi Nicholson from the Ngai Tahu and Ngati Raukawa tribes in New Zealand. He is currently a lecturer in Maori language and society at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, and he describes the need to "market" indigenous languages so that they can hold their own against English. The second paper by Alice Anderton describes using a public access cable television channel to disseminate programs about Oklahoma's indigenous languages. The last two papers describe surveys to access attitudes towards the Echota Cherokee and Navajo languages.

The last section contains five papers. The first paper by Dawn Stiles, an adult educator for the Cocopah Tribe in Southern Arizona, looks at the common characteristics of four successful indigenous language programs. The second paper by Scott Palmer theorizes about the influence of the language of the workplace on the loss of indigenous languages. In the third paper University of Lousiville Professor and Co-chair of the 1998 Stabilizing Indigenous Languages Symposium Robert St. Clair discusses the negative effects of modern culture on indigenous peoples and the need for the preservation of indigenous languages and cultures. In the fourth and fifth papers Barbara Burnaby of the Ontario Institute for Educational Studies shares her thoughts on indigenous language stabilization from her long experience in Canada and Mark Fettes shares his speaker-centered view of language as an alternative to the monolithic, decontextualized abstractions favored by modern linguistics. Go to Purchasing Information on Teaching Indigenous Languages.

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