Urban Indians in Phoenix Schools, 1940-2000 by Stephen Kent Amerman

Image courtesy of University of Nebraska Press

Stephen Kent Amerman, an associate professor of history at Southern Connecticut State University, has published a book entitled Urban Indians in Phoenix Schools, 1940-2000. His book is part of the Indigenous Education Series with the University of Nebraska Press. Various studies have been written on the educational experiences of American Indian people. However, much of this literature has tended to focus on the Indian boarding school experience during the so-called assimilation period. Recent studies, such as Taos/Dine scholar Glenabah Martinez’s monograph, Native Pride: The Politics of Curriculum and Instruction in an Urban Public School and Amerman’s book, fill a major gap in the literature on the experiences of Native students who attended public high schools. Amerman also writes about Hopis who went to Phoenix urban schools, which is a topic not often examined by scholars of Hopi and Indian education history. Below is a brief synopsis of the book from the University of Nebraska Press website.

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

In the latter half of the twentieth century, tens of thousands of Native American families moved to cities across the United States, some via the government relocation program and some on their own. In the cities, they encountered new forms of work, entertainment, housing, and education. In this study, Stephen Kent Amerman focuses on the educational experiences of Native students in urban schools in Phoenix, Arizona, a city with one of the largest urban Indian communities in the nation. The educational experiences of Native students in Phoenix varied over time and even in different parts of the city, but interactions with other ethnic groups and the experience of being a minority for the first time presented distinctive challenges and opportunities for Native students.
Using oral histories as well as written records, Amerman examines how Phoenix schools tried to educate and assimilate Native students alongside Hispanic, Asian, black, and white students and how Native children, their parents, and the Indian community at large responded to this new urban education and the question of their cultural identity. Reconciling these pressures was a struggle, but many found resourceful responses, charting paths that enabled them to acquire an urban education while still remaining Indian.
Stephen Kent Amerman is an associate professor of history at Southern Connecticut State University. His articles have appeared in American Indian Culture and Research Journal, American Indian Quarterly, and Journal of Arizona History.
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© Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert and BEYOND THE MESAS, 2009-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert and BEYOND THE MESAS with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

About the author

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert is enrolled with the Hopi Tribe from the village of Upper Moencopi in northeastern Arizona. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of History and a Dean's Fellow and Conrad Humanities Scholar in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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