Reckoning and Reconciliation in Education

Reckoning and Reconciliation in Education

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Nebraska Union

1400 R Street

Lincoln, NE 68588

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In-person conference addressing reconciliation efforts in education

About this event

This combination of keynote presentations, panels, and workshops explores how education can promote a greater reckoning with the Great Plains' complex history and build new relationships based on respect and dignity for all. This conference will cover topics from the historical trauma of Indian boarding schools to current efforts to diversify the teaching force and institute more representative and inclusive curricula.

This event is in-person, free for all, and open to the public, but registration is required. Lunch and closing reception are provided. Keynotes will be recorded and made available afterward.

This conference is part of a year-long series dedicated to exploring how residents of the Great Plains can best reckon with the violence, conflict, and abuse that has occurred in our region and move toward healing, justice, and reconciliation.

People on the Great Plains have suffered dispossession, exile, violence, discrimination, exclusion, exploitation, forcible assimilation, and family separation. Typical accounts of the region often downplay or erase these events. Yet past abuses have contributed to current disparities and inequalities, and our failure to confront them has limited our possibilities to create a fully inclusive and thriving society.

This series will reckon with the past while also highlighting the resiliency of people, cultures, and communities moving forward. These events are designed for community members and organizers, local and regional leaders, students, student groups, the academic community, and anyone curious about these issues.

The Center’s 2022 Reckoning & Reconciliation on the Great Plains events are supported by the following University of Nebraska-Lincoln entities: Office of the President, Office of the Chancellors, Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor, Office of Research & Economic Development, College of Arts & Sciences, College of Law, College of Education and Human Sciences, Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts, Institute of Ethnic Studies, and the Diversity Officers Collaborative. As well as the University of Nebraska at Kearney, Humanities Nebraska, and the Cooper Foundation.

Preliminary schedule:

9-10:15 a.m.: Introduction and keynote

Nebraska Ballroom

En el centro también vivimos: Latina/o/x Histories, Memory, and Community Building Beyond the Coasts

Dr. Mirelsie Velázquez

The growing historiography on Latina/o/x populations offers rich readings of their multiple contributions in the building and sustaining of communities. However, at times those readings are limited to East and West Coast communities, often ignoring the lives of those in the middle. En el centro también vivimos speaks to the need to highlight the historical specificities of Latina/o/x populations living, learning, and surviving in the Great Plains and Midwest, to challenge monolithic historical readings of the space and thinking of how we imagine a future for our communities.

Mirelsie Velázquez, PhD, is an associate professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and the Rainbolt Family Endowed Education Presidential Professor at the University of Oklahoma. As a historian of education, her work centers race, gender and sexuality, and the history of urban education. Her book, Puerto Rican Chicago: Schooling the City, 1940-1977 (University of Illinois Press 2022), chronicles the Puerto Rican community’s response to the urban decay in which they were forced to live, work, and especially learn. Her work has most recently appeared in the journals Latino Studies, Centro, and Gender and Education. Dr. Velázquez is currently working on a second book project that historicizes Puerto Rican women and other Latina activists in higher education across the Midwest, from the 1970s to the 1990s, as they worked to create homespaces.

10:30-11:45 a.m.: Concurrent Session 1

1. Reconciliation through Diversifying Nebraska's Teaching Force

Heritage Room

Edmund 'Ted' Hamann, Lydiah Kiramba, Ricardo Martinez, and Amanda Morales

Teaching in Nebraska and elsewhere on the Plains has consistently attracted White women disproportionate to the share of the population and, in turn, has under-attracted teachers of color. In 2020-21 Nebraska school enrollment was 64.9% White, while its teaching force was 95.0% White. While White teachers can and often do successfully teach non-White students, Meier and Stewart (1991) long ago persuasively documented how students of color fare better in districts where there are more teachers with similar backgrounds as them. This roundtable describes a current effort by faculty of UNL’s Dept. of Teaching, Learning, & Teacher Education, with support from the Nebraska Department of Education, to create ‘future teacher’ clubs at three of Nebraska’s most diverse high schools.

2. Indigenous Outreach and Education in Nebraska and Kansas

Regency Suite A

Colette Yellow Robe and Alex Red Corn

This interactive presentation will provide findings from a project aiming to ensure American Indian students, educators, and programs were more visible by listening to local leaders in Indian education as they describe their communities, programs, successes, struggles, and areas of need.

3. Restorying Great Plains History: Potawatomi Sovereignty in Education

Regency Suite B-C

Kelli Mosteller, Matt Higdon, Rachel Watson

The Potawatomi Nation created a lesson plan focused around the story of how the Nation came to the Great Plains from the Great Lakes region. Presenters will discuss the process and outcomes of lesson design grounded in Potawatomi pedagogy. Tribal educators are working toward a pedagogy that starts with Potawatomi worldviews and translates them into an educational process, exercising tribal sovereignty in education.

12-1:30 p.m.: Lunch and keynote

Nebraska Ballroom

The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition’s Work for Transformative Justice

Samuel B. Torres and Stephen R. Curley from the Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition

The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) continues to lead with our robust framework for generating greater awareness, education, and tools for learning and healing in response to the ongoing trauma provoked by the federal Indian boarding school policy in the United States. In June 2021, Department of the Interior Secretary Debra Haaland announced the federal government will investigate its past oversight of these boarding institutions in a Federal Initiative. In December 2021, NABS entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the DOI to share records and information in support of this Initiative. NABS is engaged in two ongoing dynamic special projects that will seek truth through history: The National Indian Boarding School Digital Archive (NIBSDA) and the U.S. Indian Boarding School Digital Map. These special projects are first of their kind endeavors and will function to identify and catalog key information about each boarding school location. These initiatives will inform one another in an ecosystem of research, data management, and community collaboration in interactive platforms and highly engaging formats to reach users in powerful and unprecedented ways. Together, these projects will provide greater insight into the Native and US history of the 19th and 20th centuries, the history of Indian education and the often-connected histories of child removal and assimilation.

Samuel B Torres, Deputy CEO, has been a fundamental part of the team since 2019. Dr. Torres first joined NABS as the Director of Research and Programs where his contributions have included leading research teams through several projects such as the Indian Child Removal Study with the First Nations Repatriation Institute and the University of Minnesota, as well as the development of Indian boarding school research and coordinating with the US Department of the Interior’s Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative. Dr. Torres has a doctorate in Educational Leadership for Social Justice from Loyola Marymount University and his work encompasses the impacts of colonization on historical and contemporary education methods, particularly the legacy of boarding schools. With his extensive experience as a researcher, writer, educator, and leader, Dr. Torres holds a passion for decolonizing fixed knowledge systems, centering ancestral knowledge and histories, and working in community to promote Indigenous futures. A bicultural human being, Dr. Torres is Mexica/Nahua on his father's side, and Irish/Scottish from his mother. In addition to actively learning and practicing Nahua language, traditions, and ceremony, he belongs to the Mexica kinship community, Kalpulli Yaocenoxtli, in St. Paul, Minn.

Stephen R. Curley, Director of Digital Archives, enrolled citizen of the Diné/Navajo Nation began his tenure as the Director of Digital Archives at the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition in the Fall of 2019. Curley is a professional archivist who is committed to being of service to Tribal community archives and museums. Curley finds it imperative for Tribal Nations to bolster these curatorial institutions and programs in order to foster cultural continuity as well as cultivating national identities through the adaptation and development of these nontraditional information infrastructures. Through his work, he continues to reaffirm that Tribal archives stand as monuments to the traditional knowledge systems and age-old institutions which have sustained the cultural memories of Tribal peoples. Stephen holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology with a minor in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and a Master of Arts in Library and Information Science from the University of Arizona with a focus on archival practices and methodologies. He has worked with Tribal governments, groups, and communities regarding the development of cultural heritage institution services, programming, and information management capacities.

1:45-3 p.m.: Concurrent Session 2

1. Every School District is ‘Indian Country:’ Building Capacity for Native Representation and Agency in a Large Urban School District’s Social Studies Curriculum

Heritage Room

Kevin Bower, Jaclyn Kellison, Robert McEntarffer, Patrick O’Meara

Public schools play a unique role in preparing young people to reckon with patterns of discrimination, inequality, violence, and marginalization in American society. One barrier to preparing students to create a more just future - and ultimately reimagining our future - can be the erasure and marginalization of American Indian peoples from school curricula. This is exacerbated by the underrepresentation of Indigenous teachers in classrooms throughout much of the United States. In this presentation the presenters will detail their efforts on behalf of Lincoln Public Schools in Lincoln, Neb., to address this problem through social studies curriculum and teacher professional development.

2. Indian Asylums, Repatriation, and Boarding Schools

Regency Suite A

Anne Gregory: Competency, Allotment, and the Canton Asylum: The Case of a Muscogee Woman

The Canton Asylum for Insane Indians, located in Canton, South Dakota, was the site of forced removal and confinement for over 400 Indigenous people, including the presenter's Muscogee great-great grandmother, Emma Gregory (1867-1912). Gregory will unpack the case of Emma Gregory as a site for settler colonial harm, tell the story of the experience at the asylum from the scant historical record, and look to the present for rituals and traditions of healing and reconciliation at the former asylum grounds.

Tamara St. John: NAGPRA/Repatriation's Impact to Tribal Communities

This presentation examines the very first repatriation efforts of the Sisseton and Wahpeton in 1991 and how it created a revitalization of cultural understanding and spirituality. The presentation includes a video of tribal leaders and tribal members that recently resurfaced at a time when the community was beginning plans for the repatriation of two young students who are buried at Carlisle, Pa. in the cemetery of the historic boarding school. The presentation will include the research uncovered and an overview of the four Sisseton Wahpeton boys who arrived there in 1879. All four boys died within a period of approximately 4 years. The stories of the boys’ lives frame the larger picture of assimilation policies and how the boarding school policies continued to impact Sisseton Wahpeton tribal people today.

Melissa Zephier Olson: A Qualitative Study Exploring Attachment through the Context of Indian Boarding Schools

This presentation looks at how Indian boarding schools impacted Indigenous families through interviews with those who attended the schools and descendants of those who attended. Survivors indicated issues of trauma they experienced at the boarding schools through abuse, family separation, abandonment and extreme loneliness. These traumatic processes then implicated difficulty in forming a strong and safe base for an attachment to form with others in their lives.

3. Workshop: Healing from Racial Violence

Regency Suite B-C

Renee Sans Souci

What does it take to heal from racial violence in the United States? Is it even possible? Racial violence and repair will focus this interactive, co-facilitated workshop. Informed by 10-week course series--taught across three seasons and in both affinity and combined groups, Sans Souci will address conceptual, experiential, and growth patterns observed across the racial healing courses and within their co-teaching relationship.

3:15-4:30 p.m.: Concurrent Session 3

1. The Seven Circles Nebraska Indigenous Program

Regency Suite A

Carol Flora, Ted Hibbeler, and students

The Seven Circles Nebraska Indigenous Program is a local high school club that centers itself on Indigenous World Views. We are interested in elevating Indigenous business, organizations, and non-profits that we can partner with. Through our programming, we work closely with youth to increase their knowledge surrounding community healing gardening, spiritual walks, web design, traditional food systems, and retreats. Another function of our club is to help students become leaders in the community and transition from high school to post-secondary settings, which include entrepreneurial opportunities. The Seven Circles Nebraska Indigenous Program is an intertribal club.

2. The Genoa U.S. Indian School Foundation

Heritage Room

Michelle Tiedje, Nancy Carlson, Nicole Drozd

This panel features members from the Genoa U.S. Indian School Foundation, a community nonprofit organization started by volunteers to collect and preserve the history of the school. In 1999, the Foundation purchased the school’s former manual training building and successfully advocated for it to be added to the National Register of Historic Places. The Foundation’s volunteers operate the building as a museum and interpretive center. This presentation will address the origins and evolution of the Center in its efforts to connect the history and legacy of the school with the Foundation’s larger goals and with ongoing regional and national conversations about how each individual and community can contribute to public recognition of the history of U.S. federal boarding schools and move toward healing, justice, and reconciliation.

3. Engaging Youth to Reimagine a World Without Violence

Regency Suite B-C

Mar Lee and colleagues

In the movement to end gender and power-based violence, Nebraska’s government and community organizations are focused on responding to instances of sexual and domestic violence. That work is now expanding to bolster prevention work in the form of youth and community engagement. This presentation from the Nebraska Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence focuses on current strategies, programs, and projects happening around Nebraska to educate young people and communities about healthy and unhealthy romantic and sexual relationships, and how you can also engage youth, friends, family, and neighbors to take action in their own communities, to challenge rape culture, and to reimagine a world free of sexual and relationship violence.

5-6 p.m.: Reception

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