Overcoming Social Exclusion : Stories From High Achieving American Indian Students

Better Essays
Overcoming Social Exclusion: Stories from High-Achieving American Indian Students
Eryka Charley
Pennsylvania State University

The purpose of this qualitative study is to understand the educational experiences of a group of high-achieving American Indian students. Despite strong community value of the importance of obtaining an education, American Indian students struggle to succeed academically, and have the lowest high school graduation rates in the United States (Brayboy, Fann, Castagno. & Solyom, 2012). It is important to understand how students from culturally, socially, and economically deprived communities are able to navigate systems of exclusion in order to improve access and opportunity within the
…show more content…
25). Throughout history, American Indian people, and their languages and cultures, have been characterized as “problems”, and schools has been instituted to be the solution, as “purveyors of assimilation” (Deyhle & Swisher, 1997, p. 115). Due to this framing of the “Indian problem”, assimilation and colonial education has shaped as the indelible definition of educational success, exclusive of the characteristics of American Indian identity and community, perpetuating it’s continued existence in the American public school system (Deyhle & Swisher, 1997; Lomawaima &McCarty, 2002). In face of these attempts to strip American Indians of their cultural and linguistic identity, it is important to note that American Indians and their communities have never been passive. An understanding of how education is experienced is integral in explaining why assimilation and colonial education has failed. The history of American Indian education in the United States is not merely one of endless oppression, but more amazingly, is one of survival, a practice of collective and individual resilience, and resistance. Each historical account gives insight not only about the ill-motivated attempts of the U.S. federal government to educate American Indians, but also details the dedication of American Indians and their communities to maintain their
Get Access