Broadening the Meaning of Citizenship Education: Native Americans and Tribal Nationhood

Summer, 2010

Source: Action in Teacher Education v. 32 no. 2 (Summer 2010) p. 70-81.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

Citizenship education is affected by content, pedagogy, and climate within the classroom and the larger community in which the school is situated. Therefore, the author argues that a socially just and effective citizenship education means including and understanding the historical and political contexts of Indigenous Americans.
The author also maintains that schools and teachers have the responsibility for students' exposure to and understanding of the complexity of the United States', politically based past and present relationship with and responsibility to tribal nations and their citizens is exposed.

The author discusses tribal nationhood and the dual citizenship that tribal nation citizens hold, expanding the definition of citizenship usually taught in schools.
Native and non-Native people have been educated within an education system designed and implemented from the colonizing and culturally imperialistic perspective, one that promoted and continues to promote the assimilation and oppression of those outside the mainstream (Pewevvardy, 2005).

The author claims that although schools were historically designed and utilized as vehicles of assimilation for Native students, educators have the choice and opportunity to stop the continued overt, covert, and seemingly subtle assimilation practices in classrooms and schools by educating students to be transformative change agents rather than agents of assimilation.

The author concludes that for an inclusive and transformative citizenship education to occur, teachers must be enabled and challenged within their professional development to access a nonsterilized, noncomplacent history of the United States and learn Indigenous American perspectives of history so that they can teach appropriate and accurate representations of Native Americans.

Pewewardy, C. (2005). Ideology, power, and the miseducation of Indigenous peoples in the United States. In W. A. Wilson & M. Yellow Bird (Eds.), For Indigenous eyes only: A decolonization handbook (pp. 139-156). Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press.

Updated: Jan. 25, 2012