[Ppnews] Decolonization of Schools and Trauma - Russ Redner

PPnews at freedomarchives.org PPnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Apr 12 13:15:57 EDT 2005


Decolonization of Schools and Trauma

This might be the darkest hour in recent memory, but, for Native people,
our removal from and occupation of our lands is still the darkest hour
in our collective history. The analysis of "What went wrong at Red
Lake?" fed to us by the mainstream media is superficial and dismissive.
The usual diagnosis is applied: the shooter was into heavy metal music,
Goth culture (dressed in black), had racial supremacist leanings (never
mind that the preoccupation with blood quantum/racial purity has been
imposed on us by the federal government to ensure our biological
extinction), and other students picked on him, with the additional
problems of living in a high poverty area and going to a low performing
school. Problem analyzed, riddle solved, and on to the next news item;
while WE still have the dead, the wounded, and a shaken and traumatized
community to care for.

It seems that with all the mounting violence in schools, increased
security, and declining quality someone should have by now examined the
school system itself as a possible suspect in this problem.  This would
be the most logical direction for any astute and concerned school
district, parents and community.  The fact that no one has bothered to
make available how schools disguise their agendas should be examined.
For example, the No Child Left Behind Act has hidden clauses that
stipulate that the funded are required to disclose personal students'
information to military recruiters (with an opt out clause that schools
are even more secretive about).  Also, the schools must take performance
tests and if those are not up to a standard the schools lose money.
These facts are probably not well known because schools remain closed
communities, resistant to any real promising changes to their territory.
This puts undue pressure on almost all of those attending schools
nationwide. Indian Schools, under funded and with high military
recruitment rates, are the most to feel the weight with possible
long-term impact for those that enter the military and end up in combat.
In a perverse twist, the students at Red Lake, in their grief and
desperation, have become perfect targets for military recruiters.

To add insult to injury the FBI is in charge of investigating this
tragedy. This is the same agency that unleashed a reign of terror on
Native reservations in general and Pine Ridge, SD, in particular, pulled
every possible trick to incarcerate Leonard Peltier (also an Anishinabe)
and keep him in prison, killed Joe Stuntz, and executed a vicious
campaign to hunt down "AIM terrorists". The FBI's involvement is due to
create even more trauma in the Red Lake community that the people will
have to cope with.

The economic condition, so heavily underscored by the media, found on
most reservations should not be the main focus in this time of grief for
the Red Lake community and all the so closely knit Native communities in
this country.  It should only be mentioned as one of the many hardships
brought about by U.S. colonial policies imposed on our indigenous
peoples.  This continuous focus on our material poverty does an
injustice to our issues as human beings. Nonetheless, we are rich in our
sense of who we are and wealthy in our understanding of our culture, our
ceremonies, and our resistance. This is what will help the families,
devastated Anishinabe community, and greater indigenous community.

Until there is an approach that addresses the issues of historical and
current contemporary traumas, relevant to our histories and that
supports our humanity, we will see our students impaired further by
their collective experiences in these school systems. They remain in
jeopardy and at serious risks for outbreaks like this in the future.
The school system is the catalyst for these eruptions, and for Native
students this adds to a legacy of forced 'education' that more resembled
"re-education camps" than the benign system that is pro-offered by the
mainstream. Also, placing all of our trust in the security apparatus is
not enough.  People power and security in forms other than punitive have
to be exercised.   Re-addressing interventions, from a healthier
perspective, is the best practice approach.

Schools produce this trauma in their methodologies and strict adherence
to a system of enforced conformity. Those most resistant to this
indoctrinational approach are the most at-risk, although all students in
this system are at-risk.  The first bully is the system and its
enforcers.  The trauma is perpetrated by the methods of enforcement,
unattainable goals under current conditions, and for the Native
population, a colonial curriculum that negates our humanity.  In
addition, we must recognize the additional trauma from the past, still
passed on generation to generation, in which the schools were used to
remove our children, destroy our families, and beat our language and
cultures out of us. The damage these policies have done to us is
incalculable and it remains to be addressed as our families remain
broken, our children are still being removed at disproportionate rates,
and our cultures have significant gaps that keep us from following the
original instructions given to each of our Nations by the Creator.

Mitakuye Oyasin
Wanbli Watakpe (aka Russ Redner, MSW)

Contact information:
cheruss at hotmail.com
(360) 456-4283
10905 Kuhlman Road # B
Olympia, WA 98513

The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
www.freedomarchives.org 
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