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  • Teaching Indigenous Students: Honoring Place, Community, and Culture ed. by Jon Reyhner
  • Linda LeGarde Grover
Teaching Indigenous Students: Honoring Place, Community, and Culture. Edited by Jon Reyhner. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2015. vii + 219 pp. Illustrations, charts, references, index. $24.95 paper.

This collection of essays edited by seasoned bicultural education expert Jon Reyhner includes contributions from scholars of indigenous education in America as well as in other parts of the world. The theme that emerges in all of the essays, that the valuing of the languages and cultures of indigenous students in classrooms results in improved retention and learning, is a principle of the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Such a powerful concept, applied as pedagogical philosophy to varied subject areas, teaching practices, and physical settings, strengthens students, families, communities, and ultimately, the boots-on-the-ground teachers whose hearts' desire is to see learners thrive. Although much of the material in this book focuses upon American Indians, the histories of indigenous cultures in other parts of the world, and many of the authors themselves, come from diverse indigenous communities.

The collection begins with a history of colonial impact and assimilationist history, particularly education policies inflicted upon indigenous communities worldwide. An overview of the suppression and destruction of cultures and beliefs, and the effects upon families and communities damaged through the schooling of their youngest members, provide an understanding of the herculean efforts in recent decades to reverse assimilation. The essays that follow are a necessarily diverse selection of curriculum development models, classroom and community dynamics, the integration of culture-based and culturally relevant curricula and teaching strategies. Essays that challenge current educational philosophies and strategies explain both research and practical application of the United Nations principle in the teaching of literacy, math, science, social studies, music, art, and physical education. In each subject are specific examples and strategies; the holistic philosophy of the collection creates an interesting read for educators, who will find parallels in the interdisciplinary pedagogy with the linking of teaching and learning to community and culture. The final essay examines the recent establishment of language immersion schools, which strengthen families and communities while revitalizing and increasing proficiency and use of the languages and cultural worldview, undoing damage created by decades of assimilationist education.

It is heartening to see the number of indigenous authors in this collection. Their presence and voices are the essence of what this book is intended to address and are what sets this collection apart. All of the authors, both younger, emerging scholars whose voices bring new perspectives to the field, and the experienced, prolific scholars who broke tracks, have built upon their research and are now the elders of pedagogy, a position comparable to that of elders in many indigenous cultures.

Educators indigenous and otherwise who work at all age and grade levels, from infant and early childhood education through advanced studies, as well as leaders and elders of indigenous communities, will find much that will enhance their own work and, most important, the success of their students. [End Page 65]

Linda LeGarde Grover
Department of American Indian Studies
University of Minnesota–Duluth


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