Indigenous Children’s Survivance in Public Schools  book cover
1st Edition

Indigenous Children’s Survivance in Public Schools

ISBN 9781138384507
Published February 20, 2019 by Routledge
268 Pages

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Book Description

Indigenous Children’s Survivance in Public Schools examines the cultural, social, and political terrain of Indigenous education by providing accounts of Indigenous students and educators creatively navigating the colonial dynamics within public schools. Through a series of survivance stories, the book surveys a range of educational issues, including implementation of Native-themed curriculum, teachers’ attempts to support Native students in their classrooms, and efforts to claim physical and cultural space in a school district, among others. As a collective, these stories highlight the ways that colonization continues to shape Native students’ experiences in schools. By documenting the nuanced intelligence, courage, artfulness, and survivance of Native students, families, and educators, the book counters deficit framings of Indigenous students. The goal is also to develop educators’ anticolonial literacy so that teachers can counter colonialism and better support Indigenous students in public schools.

Table of Contents




Part I: Colonialism in the Classroom

1. Pilgrims and Invented Indians

2. Halloween Costumes and Native Identity

3. Native Sheroes and Complex Personhood

Part II: Colonialism in the Culture of Schools

4. Little Anthropologists

5. Native Heritage Month

6. Education on the Border of Sovereignty

Conclusion: Interventions for Urban Indigenous Education


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Leilani Sabzalian (Alutiiq) is an Assistant Professor of Indigenous Studies in Education at the University of Oregon.


"Much has been written about Native students, their communities, and their experiences in schools. This book offers us an intimate view on how Native students and their communities experience education, through their eyes. This text disrupts deficit notions of who Native students are and offers teachers concrete tools to understand the unique contours of what this looks like in the context of settler colonial schooling. Moreover it can be used to fill gaps in teacher knowledge around Indigenous studies that is useful for a variety of existing pedagogical practices including place-based education, anti-racist education, multicultural education, and culturally sustaining approaches. More important, it centers Indigenous knowledges and methodologies to paint a picture of not only the enduring legacy of colonial education but also how Indigenous communities resist and flourish, despite it. To do this, Dr. Sabzalian offers us an important tool of survivance storytelling—using Vizenor’s notion of survivance and Brayboy’s contribution of TribalCrit—that "specifically foregrounds colonization and aims to further Indigenous self-determination and sovereignty." In sum, this book represents the first serious examination of the schooling of Indigenous peoples using the literatures of critical Indigenous studies and settler colonialism, alongside the existing and numerable works produced within the field of education on Indigenous/American Indian/Alaska Native education. It is accessible, powerful, and should be on every educator’s desk."

—Dolores Calderon, J.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Youth Society and Justice, Western Washington University