Truth In Education
The writer is the author of Black Hawk's Mission of Peace Phillip B Gottfredson
True First Nation history needs to be included in Utah's school curriculum, but its not...why?
Perhaps the most critical element to our understanding of the Utah Black Hawk War is not the war itself but what gets left out of Utah's Native American history. Ask any Utahn if they have ever heard of the Black Hawk War or the Timpanogos Nation, and they will most likely tell you no. Because true First Nations history is not part of the school curriculum, only a tiny fraction of Utah's population knows anything about the Timpanogos or their version of the war. And why some seventy thousand Timpanogos Indians died from violence, starvation, and disease, or why Mormon colonists stole their land, causing extreme disruptions to their culture and environment for over two decades. Add to the mix the evils of boarding house schools. Ask if they know anything about the sacred teachings of Native Americans, and the answer is the same(crickets). These are essential topics of colonialism that need discussion until they are understood.
Hiding or distorting the truth is deceitful, mocking what it means to be honest and respectful of others' lives and history—leading to racism and bigotry. It sets an awful example for our children, who are the future of our nation.
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. We can't just ignore Utah's indigenous history. They have been grossly misunderstood and misrepresented in Utah's mainstream history. How do I know this? I lived with them. I learned the truth. And this is why I collaborated with the Timpanogos and wrote the book "Black Hawk's Mission of Peace" published by Archway Publishing from Simon & Schuster. Barely Ablemann, Washington DC wrote, "As many have said, this book should be a part of every American high school student's study of American history, for if we could be willing to acknowledge our whole history and see the truth, the truth will set us free. Bravo, Sir !"
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 damn fault." It couldn't be farther from the truth. The reason for the confusion in Utah's history is a lack of education. Stereotyping is the result of a lack of truth.
No one is born a racist; racism is taught. We learn it from our schools and communities. If this is what Utahns believe, they are the product of their inculturation and an educational system that has failed to teach them the truth. Likewise, there is no doubt that the white man has given Native Americans every chance to give up their culture and assimilate into their culture.
The Native American student feels left out, ignored, and excluded from the community when their history is left out of school curriculum consequently the drop-out rate for the Native American student is disproportionately high.
Historically, Native Americans have been denied access to their history by white culture. Their children were forced to attend boarding house schools and made to accept the victors' point of view; western beliefs were systematically taught, effectively replacing cultural traditions and customs by denying them their birthright to speak their language and religious freedom. Because they did not have equal access to justice and protection under the law, they were discriminated against and segregated and became victims of cultural genocide.
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.
See: Native American Protocols We have added this page to help educators and people who are beginning relationships with Native American people.