Free to be Kanien'kehaka: A Case Study of Educational Self-determination at the Akwesasne Freedom School

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/195148
Title:
Free to be Kanien'kehaka: A Case Study of Educational Self-determination at the Akwesasne Freedom School
Author:
White, Louellyn
Issue Date:
2009
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
A history of forced assimilation, colonial education, and cultural and linguistic oppression has resulted in the loss and endangerment of hundreds of Native languages, including the Mohawk language of the northeastern U.S. and Canada. It is estimated that only 5% of the population on the Akwesasne reservation are Mohawk speakers. In 1979 a significant effort to revitalize the Mohawk language began with the establishment of the Akwesasne Freedom School (AFS), a grassroots community-based cultural and language immersion program. No prior research or historical documentation of these efforts has been conducted regarding the AFS. This dissertation documents how the school was founded, how it has maintained itself without federal or state funding, and examines how the school has positively impacted its alumni, students, teachers, parents and staff. Through individual interviews, participant observations, and archival research this dissertation reveals the community's investments in and overall effects of this innovative language program on the Akwesasne community. I present the Akwesasne Freedom School as a model of Indigenous holistic education that incorporates traditional teachings, experiential methods, and language immersion. Alumni, parents, and teachers report that the school has helped them feel a strong sense of Mohawk identity. Many respondents reported that their involvement with the AFS helped them to return to the Longhouse, the traditional meeting and ceremonial place. Knowledge of the Mohawk language is only one aspect of Mohawk identity and several Mohawk values were identified in this study: respect, kinship, responsibility, cooperation, leadership, and stewardship. Ultimately, this study identifies what it means to be fully Mohawk. The Akwesasne Freedom School provides an opportunity for negotiating language and identity in a space designed to transcend historical colonization. The AFS serves as an exemplary model for educational self-determination and as a reminder to the Canadian and U.S. governments of tribal authority and sovereignty over the education of their children. Most importantly, students at the Akwesasne Freedom School are "Free to be Kanien'kehaka (Mohawk)."
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Keywords:
Akwesasne; Haudenosaunee; Holistic education; Iroquois; Language revitalization; Mohawk
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
American Indian Studies; Graduate College
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Committee Chair:
Lomawaima, K. Tsianina

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoENen_US
dc.titleFree to be Kanien'kehaka: A Case Study of Educational Self-determination at the Akwesasne Freedom Schoolen_US
dc.creatorWhite, Louellynen_US
dc.contributor.authorWhite, Louellynen_US
dc.date.issued2009en_US
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractA history of forced assimilation, colonial education, and cultural and linguistic oppression has resulted in the loss and endangerment of hundreds of Native languages, including the Mohawk language of the northeastern U.S. and Canada. It is estimated that only 5% of the population on the Akwesasne reservation are Mohawk speakers. In 1979 a significant effort to revitalize the Mohawk language began with the establishment of the Akwesasne Freedom School (AFS), a grassroots community-based cultural and language immersion program. No prior research or historical documentation of these efforts has been conducted regarding the AFS. This dissertation documents how the school was founded, how it has maintained itself without federal or state funding, and examines how the school has positively impacted its alumni, students, teachers, parents and staff. Through individual interviews, participant observations, and archival research this dissertation reveals the community's investments in and overall effects of this innovative language program on the Akwesasne community. I present the Akwesasne Freedom School as a model of Indigenous holistic education that incorporates traditional teachings, experiential methods, and language immersion. Alumni, parents, and teachers report that the school has helped them feel a strong sense of Mohawk identity. Many respondents reported that their involvement with the AFS helped them to return to the Longhouse, the traditional meeting and ceremonial place. Knowledge of the Mohawk language is only one aspect of Mohawk identity and several Mohawk values were identified in this study: respect, kinship, responsibility, cooperation, leadership, and stewardship. Ultimately, this study identifies what it means to be fully Mohawk. The Akwesasne Freedom School provides an opportunity for negotiating language and identity in a space designed to transcend historical colonization. The AFS serves as an exemplary model for educational self-determination and as a reminder to the Canadian and U.S. governments of tribal authority and sovereignty over the education of their children. Most importantly, students at the Akwesasne Freedom School are "Free to be Kanien'kehaka (Mohawk)."en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen_US
dc.subjectAkwesasneen_US
dc.subjectHaudenosauneeen_US
dc.subjectHolistic educationen_US
dc.subjectIroquoisen_US
dc.subjectLanguage revitalizationen_US
dc.subjectMohawken_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineAmerican Indian Studiesen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.chairLomawaima, K. Tsianinaen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberStauss, Josephen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberMcCarty, Teresaen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberTippeconnic-Fox, Mary Joen_US
dc.identifier.proquest10364en_US
dc.identifier.oclc659751980en_US
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