Decolonial pedagogies

Two quotes from the beginning of Haas’ “Toward a Decolonial Digital and Visual American Indian Rhetorics Pedagogy” stood out:

“…there is a long Western rhetorical tradition of constructing American Indians… in stereotypical, essentialized, and fetishized ways that contribute to a larger, monolithic fiction of who/what is “the American Indian” (189)


“Indeed, on most occasions, American Indians are visually and textually linked to a past and erased from the present and future” (189).

I continue to be amazed by the use of Native Americans as mascots for various sports teams and cannot imagine a parallel where a different racial/ethnic identity was used in the same way (“The Atlanta Spics” for example). These quotes help illustrate why relatively few people are bothered by that exploitation. (Another relevant quotation is that if we do not disrupt colonial narratives, we risk being part of the “cash cow for media industries that not only allows for but is sponsored by the continued subjugation of peoples and intellectual traditions indigenous to this country” (190)).

The whole intro section of the article makes me think of Paulo Freire and the idea that education is always political–everything we teach carries an agenda, a set of biases and values that inform how we interpret history, etc. So teaching a traditional “first Thanksgiving story” activity to elementary schoolers may feel like a totally benign activity, but it is in fact reinforcing the essentialized and fetishized view of Native Americans that is embedded within traditional colonial narratives.


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