I was born and raised in a small town where our family was one of a few Lakota families. I attended the elementary school only through 3rd grade, transferring to a reservation school in 4th grade. I did not know that my older siblings, prior to the Civil Rights Act being passed in 1964, could not attend the school I attended. Why? Because they were not of the majority race in that small town of mostly European immigrants. I would have remained ignorant about the time prior to the Civil Rights era and how it affected “Indians” except for my older sibling’s story. How the Indian children in what was called “Indian Town” were taught by a missionary family because they could not attend the all-white school a few blocks down the street.
I did not know it was such a privilege to attend the small elementary school I attended in that small town. Just like today’s generation of Native American students growing up on Indian reservations across America who think of history as something that did not affect or impact “Indians.”
We need to hear more of the stories by Lakota/ Nakota/Dakota and other Native Americans who have been affected as Americans by discrimination during the Civil Rights era in the 1960’s and the time before. Our stories need to be collected and published as part of the American narrative. I for one will collect your stories. Send them to the email below.
It is discouraging to see racism alive and well, even at the highest levels, i.e. at the university level. Schools like the University of California state system, i.e. at Berkeley, that eliminate affirmative action who wrongly believe that it’s the right policy, limit access. If we want things to get better for people of all races in America we need to demand more from our publicly funded universities. The student population, staff and faculty at state universities need to reflect the composition of that state’s population.
Including the publicly funded universities in the Dakotas and the states nearby that should, as a minimum, reflect percentages represented by the populations of Native Americans within their state borders. Any state with a population of Native Americans should have that minimum in mind as part of an overall goal to increase representation in education at the highest levels.
Education must be available to all at the highest levels in order to improve the current climate of intolerance. How discouraging it is to continue to see and experience racism in 2017 when laws were passed in 1964 to help students of color. Had I been barred from that elementary school, I may not have been able to be the first college graduate, first graduate with a Doctor of Philosophy in my chosen field, in my family. Anything is or was, possible as long as there are, or were, open doors for people like us.