|Released:||November 11th, 1999|
Many voices in the Intermountain West have been unheard for decades. They include the voices of American Indian students, whose education has served primarily to assimilate them into the world beyond the reservation. Native American children have been removed from their families, stripped of their language and culture, and forced to adopt the ways of the dominant Euro-Western society. The results have been devastating, with a drop out rate which has been as high as 90 percent.
In Walking in Two Worlds: Issues in American Indian Education, KUED-Channel 7 travels to Montana, Idaho, and Utah to tackle the complexities of Native American education while exploring possibilities for change. Produced by KUED's Kristy Campbell, the program was originally created for Culture and School Success, a University of Utah education course. The program features music by Nino Reyos.
Rather than shying away from the problems, Walking in Two Worlds takes a candid look at flaws in the Native American education system of the past. "I wasn't prepared for the painful stories about the Indian schools that existed only decades ago," says Campbell. "But I realized that people generously shared their personal stories with us in the hopes that America's schools will improve and the experiences of their children will be better than their own."
The program highlights six successful educational programs in the Intermountain West, such as Monument Valley High School on the Navajo reservation. There, students learn math concepts and computer principals while creating Navajo rug designs using a computer programming language. Tribal elders then reinforce the Navajo culture as they teach the children to weave their own patterns.
"Walking in Two Worlds shows how students can balance their two worlds when they're equipped with skills necessary to be contributing members of American society while still retaining their rich culture and heritage," says Campbell.
In order for students to graduate from the Two Eagle River High School on the Flathead Reservation in Pablo, Montana, they must learn their native Salish language. At the tribally run Salish-Kootenai College in Northern Montana, students learn valuable skills that allow them to continue their graduate-level education at mainstream universities. They often return to their tribal homes to become instruments of change and inspiration.
"The program demonstrates the power of the television medium by not only promoting cultural pluralism in the classroom, but in the community as well," says Campbell. "I wanted to portray the American Indian experience in an honest and insightful manner."
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