Throwback – Power and Place: Indian Education in America

Power and Place: Indian Education in America by Vine Deloria Jr. and Daniel Wildcat is today’s Throwback Thursday.  Deloria and Wildcat offer this as a “declaration of American Indian intellectual sovereignty and self-determination.”  An excerpt from a review by Jason Schreiner:

With such a revolutionary agenda at stake, they dispense with reformist proposals aimed at “sensitizing” educators and administrators to the “plight” and “special needs” of Native students. Instead, Deloria and Wildcat hail the “problem” of Native students and indigenous people as “an affirmation—a living testimony to the resilience of American Indian cultures.” Taking their cue from the “old ways” of tribal traditions and knowledge construction, the authors envision a “truly American Indian,” or indigenized, educational practice grounded literally in power and place. Power is understood as the “living energy that inhabits and/or composes the universe,” and place is the “relationship of things to each other.” As Deloria notes, “power and place produce personality,” meaning not only that experience of the universe in a particular place is inherently personal, but also that the universe itself is personal. Personality is thus the “substantive embodiment, the unique realization, of all the relations and power” emergent in a given place. Moreover, because the natural world is personal, “its perceived relationships are always ethical,” and appropriate action therefore requires careful discernment of nature’s messages, as well as subsequent behavior that considers all possible consequences and ensures relationships are completed. An indigenized educational practice thus begins with the explicit aim of establishing personal relationships with the natural world, through living experience in a particular place.

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