Education: Cultural Hegemony and Critical Consciousness Historical Trauma The Lac du Flambeau Curriculum

Historical Trauma and the Motivation for the Lac Du Flambeau Curriculum Road Map

Tribal Sovereignty is what makes Indian people unique from all other minority groups. Hidden histories are being recovered and false histories are being revised which will shape our identity as Indian people.

The Anishinaabe people of Lac du Flambeau, along with other tribes in the United States have been subjected to assimilation practices for hundreds of years. This has been done forcibly as the federal government attempted to remove our languages, our ways of being, and even our children from the lives of the tribe.

Since the founding of the United States, Indigenous people have suffered many hardships, discrimination and injustice at the hands of the Federal and Wisconsin State government.

In spite of the fact that the Bill of Rights was created to protect the liberties that the White founding fathers of the United States of America believed were naturally theirs.

These natural liberties included the right to unpopular expression (Freedom of Speech, Press, Petition and Assembly), the right to be treated equitably by the government whenever the loss of liberty of property was at stake (Due Process of Law), and the right to be treated equally before the law whatever one’s status (Equality before the Law).

However, these liberties were not extended to the sovereign Indian nations. 

In spite of being divested of their traditional lands through treaties signed between the United States Federal government and Tribal governments in the first half of the nineteenth century, the First Nations of what was to become Wisconsin did manage to protect their ancient hunting, fishing and gathering liberties by including them in these treaties.

Nevertheless, once the State of Wisconsin was created in 1848, both the civil liberties and civil rights granted by treaty were ignored. Indigenous members of the 11 federally recognized tribes in Wisconsin were persecuted if they tried to express what they believed were their civil liberties and rights to pursue their traditional lifestyle by hunting and fishing off their reservations.

Indeed, it has been argued that the rights of American Indians remain largely ignored, despite the Voigt decision in 1983, which validated the treaty rights in question more than a hundred years after signature; and ACT 31, the facilitation of which is at the heart of this project.

Societal problems surrounding the 1983 Voigt Decision (which recognized the Chippewa rights under treaty) pointed out the serious consequences that result from a lack of accurate information about tribal histories, cultures, and political status.

In 1989, the efforts of both state and tribal leaders led to legislation requiring instruction in the history, culture, and tribal sovereignty of the federally-recognized tribes and bands in Wisconsin.

The intent of the (ACT 31) act was to provide Wisconsin’s students with accurate, academically appropriate information that could also serve as a positive force to combat misunderstanding and social unrest.

The outcome of the oppression embedded in United States history has been post-historical trauma for many Indigenous people in many communities. The trajectory of historical trauma has created social and cultural digressions from traditional culture that have resulted in generations of the unmitigated despair for Indigenous People.

Today, indigenous communities seek to heal from historical trauma by:

  • strengthening and protecting their civil liberties and civil and human rights; developing traditional ecological knowledge and life ways
  • deepening their relationship to the land and water
  • increasing their capacity to envision and carry out transformative possibilities in the spirit of collective self-determination

Like all communities that have experienced the impacts of colonialism, Native people have had to become extremely resilient to survive as a people.

The Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe have retained much of their cultural awareness and their strength, and this road map will identify resilience factors of tribal students that will provide ways to ensure a healthy identity and self-concept as well as educational achievement for youth going forward in Lac Du Flambeau.

Contemporary researchers have found that resilience factors vary in different risk contexts and this has contributed to the notion that resilience is a process.

In order to characterize the resilience process in a particular context, it is necessary to identify and measure the risk involved. This approach has shown that perceived discrimination and historical trauma are part of the context in many Indigenous communities. (Fleming & Ledogar, 2008).

The following are the learning objectives that have been identified to achieve healing from historical trauma: 

  1. Define and recognize historical trauma and after-effects in Wisconsin Native peoples
  2. Reflect on their own history with regard to the trauma imposed on Wisconsin Native peoples
  3. Learn about the power of cultural restoration to promote resilience and healing among Native peoples

In Red Pedagogy, Sandy Grande (2004) describes a “Fourth Space” which is “about the choice to live differently, about standing in defiance of the vapid emptiness of the white stream, and about resisting the kind of education where connections to Earth and the Spirit world are looked upon with skepticism and derision” (Grande, 2004). 

We are asked to consider what this ‘fourth space’ could actually look like. Contemplating this has definitely led me on something of a complicated maze.

Brian Jackson