True First Nation History For All in Utah
by Author Phillip B Gottfredson
True First Nation history needs to be included in Utah's school curriculum, but it's not...why? For over two decades I have advocated the importance of teaching the truth about the Utah Black Hawk War and the Timpanogos people of Utah, and that it needs to be added to school curriculum in Utah's public school system.
First Nation children are required to attend public schools, and there they, unlike non-Natives, are not taught their own history. Aside from teachers mentioning Indians in passing, in-depth discussions about their culture such as customs and sacred beliefs are not explored as non-Indian culture is, this is a racist mind-set.
The Native American student then feels left out, ignored, and are excluded in this way from the community. Because their history is ignored and left out of school curriculum consequently the drop-out rate for the Native American student is very high.
When a people are deliberately denied access to their own history by educators and institutions as the American Indian have been; when their children are forced to accept solely the victors point of view; when cultural traditions and customs of the American Indian are systematically replaced by western beliefs; when they are denied their right to speak their own language and denied their religious freedom; when they are repeatedly denied equal access to justice and protection under the law; when these things happen and they are being discriminated against and segregated, then they are victims of genocide. Could it be that this the true intention behind denying both Native and non-Native people access to true Native American history?
During my research of the history of First Nations of Utah, time and time again I have been told by members of the LDS church "We have given the Indians every chance to succeed. Yet they choose to live off the government, get drunk, do drugs and live in poverty. It's their own damn fault."
If this is truly what Utahns believe, their ignorance is the product of an educational system that has failed to teach them the truth. There is no doubt First Nations people have been given every chance to give up their culture and accept the white man's ways or suffer dire consequences history as proven to be the case. There is no doubt that Native Americans have said "no!" to white man's version of their own history, and why wouldn't they? They know their own history better than non-Natives do, unless they were born and raised off the reservations by non-Natives. But that doesn't matter, no student should be forced to listen to lies? Soon or later they will learn the truth. Soon or later students are going to ask why they were lied to and what the motivations were behind such deceit? Is it any wonder then that First Nation children are more likely to drop out of school and turn their backs on white culture? Only a tiny percentage of Utahn's even know about Chief Black Hawk, the Black Hawk war or the Timpanogos Nation! When educators teach half-truths filled with platitudes, and omit the truth in their class rooms, how does that build trust and respect between our cultures? How does that promote a sense of healing and inclusion? How can any teacher expect their students to ignore and dismiss cultural genocide as being incidental or trivial? How does that build that bridge between our cultures? How many more generations have to come and go before the truth is told?
the Salt Lake Tribune article by Lisa Shencker November 25, 2009: For many people of color, education - far from being a tool
for uplift -
was a bludgeon, designed to strip culture, difference,
non-white children and to "civilize" them with the master
U.S. history. For Native people, this calculated cultural
done with force, as Native children were taken from their
sent to government boarding schools designed to "Kill the
"These kids are living in Utah, and they need to know the whole story," said Elizabeth Player, curriculum coordinator for the Utah Indian Curriculum Project at the American Advertisement West Center at the University of Utah. "If we miss out on the first people in our state and their current status, we're missing a huge piece of that puzzle as to who we are as Utahns."
"Too often, museums and other institutions portray Indians as they do the dinosaurs, like we're dead and gone," said Forrest Cuch, former director of the state Division of Indian Affairs. "But we're not."
"I feel like I can finally do it justice," said Quinn Rollins, a seventh-grade teacher at Bennion Junior High in Taylorsville."
Tiana Tollestrup, an eighth-grader at Crescent View Middle School in Sandy, said she's eager to learn more about her own heritage and American Indian historical figures.
Utah failing to educate Indian kids, report says
"Indian people are still suffering from and have not healed from the North American conquest, nor the violent struggle to settle Utah, predominantly by members of the LDS Mormon faith." In order to educate Utah's American Indian children, it's important for those youths to understand their past, "begin to heal" and start believing in themselves, according to the report.
Another finding is that Utah's tribal communities continue to blame failed economic and educational systems on or near reservations for many problems within tribes. But the plan says the blame game between schools, American Indian parents and their children needs to stop.
"We have learned that for American Indians in the state of Utah," the plan says, "social dysfunctions are real and have a major impact on education and what happens in schools." Among possible solutions, it says some tribes, which have their own sovereign rights, are willing to enter into agreements with the government to clarify expectations between the state, tribes and school districts.
The report goes on to say a lack of "accurate and culturally relevant curriculum" perpetuates stereotypes and contributes to low self-esteem among Indian students. Administrators, counselors and teachers, the group said, should have to demonstrate cultural competency related to American Indians as a graduation requirement.
Native Education - By Naomi Isshisaka
"The only chance of saving any of this race, will be by
children, at a very early age, and educating them in our
habits, in a
situation removed from the contagion of Indian pursuits."
- William Tudor in Letters on the Eastern States, 1821
Educators should avoid manipulative phases and wording such as "massacre," "victory," and "conquest" which distort facts and history.