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

Race, Racism & Whiteness

“Race” is a complex, bifurcated narrative; it is a double-sided coin.

On one side of the coin is the category of Whiteness or unearned advantage. On the other side of the coin is racism or unearned oppression, which reflects the power of Whiteness to exclude, benefit from, and enact violence on those who do not fall into this category.

Whiteness has been encoded in dominant institutions, culture, and is expressed by White individuals, and some people of “color,” who have themselves internalized Whiteness, as a deep distaste, hatred, and sometimes violence towards people of “color.”

On the other hand, Whiteness has, and continues to be, vehemently opposed by some people classified as White, as well as by people of “color.”

Act 31

  • Racism during the conflicts at boat landings in Wisconsin leading to Act 31 involved harassment, physical altercations, and death threats
  • People said, they fought against the Natives because they felt they were harming the environment, but multiple studies show sports anglers take more fish than all of the tribes, who also have fish hatcheries to put more fish into the lakes

Within the Lac du Flambeau reservation, I didn’t see much racism. Once you get into the town there is much more evidence of racism and whiteness.

For example, the kids that go to school on the reservation from K-8th grade leave and go to the high school out of the reservation. Within the high school, the Ojibwe kids are only about 28-30% of the high school population.

Lac Du Flambeau Public School

  • 90% of teachers are white
  • Current and incoming principal are both white
  • Teachers at LDF are introduced to Ojibwe culture, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to the classroom
  • Small number of teachers are trying to teach with culturally responsive pedagogy
  • Most teachers bring a monocultural and Euro-American view of curriculum and the classroom resulting in a “cultural mismatch” with the students

Lakeland Union High School

  • 28% of the students are Native American
  • Only have two staff members who are Native American
  • School has doubled the orientation time for new teachers to have time for them to learn more about the area and cultures of the students they’ll be teaching
  • Teachers typically push Act 31 teachings and culturally responsive teachings to the side to focus on material that will be on standardized testing

Mission/Boarding Schools (1870s)

  • Native American children and youth were taken from their families and taken to boarding schools with the goal to assimilate them to Euro-American culture and life
  • “Kill the Indian save the man” mentality 
  • Shamed, beaten/neglected, and disease/death from overcrowding, poor sanitary conditions, and students being overworked
  • Loss of language, shamed for their culture, and ripped away from their families