Episodes — 16 May 2011
Episode 7:  Children on the Border

WATCH

DISCUSS

1. How can education be used as a way of harming different cultural groups?

2. What rights should students and their families enjoy when it comes to education?

3. Is it important for students to learn about other cultures in school? Why or why not?

4. How does the process of erasing culture through education compare with other forms of social control you have seen in the game (e.g. SerennAide)?

5. Using this news story and this level’s artifacts, discuss some of the other injustices that Native American peoples have suffered at the hands of the U.S. government.

Additional Tips for Educators: Since European colonists stepped ashore in the Americas in the 16th century, Native Americans have been evicted from their lands and forced to migrate westward as the population of colonizers increased. In 1830, the United States authorized the Indian Removal Act, which stipulated that Native Americans living east of the Mississippi River were to be relocated to lands west of the Mississippi River. In the 1840s, the formulation of the doctrine of Manifest Destiny only intensified the white settler demands for native lands. Over 15,000 members of the Cherokee Nation were forcibly removed to the West, and 4,000 of that group perished along what became known as the “Trail of Tears.” Between 1851 and 1892, the U.S. government enacted the Indian Appropriations Acts, which paved the way for the establishment of the American Indian Boarding Schools. Children were sometimes taken forcibly, by armed police, to these schools, where the curricular focus was on cultural transformation through discipline and punishment. The guiding philosophy behind the schools was to ‘kill the Indian, and save the man.’ Over time, these schools generated a lot of criticism, but persisted into the 21st century.

After the federal government heavily cut taxes in 2016, government funding for the schools declined. Simultaneously, a growing fear of foreigners resulted in a resurgence of xenophobia and ethnic cleansing in 2027, following the rise of the Namibian Plague. In response to the increasing instability and broken treaties, the Pueblo Nation seceded from the U.S. in 2040. Indigenous peoples in Canada, Mexico, and Australia have followed suit in a global movement to reclaim indigenous lands.

MAKE

Social engineering refers to a deliberate and organized attempt to reconfigure society through different policies and institutions. Now that you have learned about how education was used as a form of social engineering against the Native American people, use this knowledge to put a human face on the suffering experienced by Native American children.

If such a policy were in force today, what would be the human toll and social consequences?

Conduct a short interview with a classmate or other young person that you know (with advance permission from the parents, of course). Ask the interviewee to tell you how they would feel if they were forcibly taken from their home and told everything they had learned there was wrong or shameful.

It will help for you to prepare your interview questions beforehand.

It may also be helpful to prepare a short background history about the boarding schools to help orient your interviewee—you may wish to tell them about the American Indian boarding schools and their policy of ‘kill the Indian, and save the man.’

Remember to keep the questions short and not to interrupt your interview subject.

Let your interviewee ask you questions—often, the best interviews feel like “normal” conversations.

Let your interviewee speak at length, and if he or she doesn’t understand the question, try to restate it in a different way.

Some questions to consider:

1. Do you know about the first people who lived here in North America?

2. Did you know that some Native American children were taken from their families?

3. How would you feel if someone came to your house and took you away from your family, and taught you that everything you do with your family is wrong?

What you’ll need:

Patience

An interview guide (a list of interview questions)

Digital voice recorder to create an mp3 file

Alternately, a digital camera to create an mp4 file

ACT

You have conducted a great interview, so now screen/playback your interview to your interviewee and his or her family, and/or with a group of friends.

The interview you conducted may lead to interesting conversations that you will be in a position to lead.

Ask around to see if you can screen your interview in your community. You may also consider screening the video at your interviewee’s school, or at local institutions like a church, library, or community center. If you can arrange a screening in a public place, tell your friends and family, and have them spread the word. You may try to invite the person you interviewed to help answer questions with you after the screening.

Another way to get the word out is to invite people over to your place to view a screening.

No matter how you choose to share your interview, remember to share it online with the America2049 community by uploading your interview on the America2049 Facebook page.

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