Full circle:native cherokee's perceptions of modern education
Ogletree, Tamra Williams
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The purpose of this study was to learn how enrolled members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians living on the Snowbird Reservation perceive education in current times and how their perceptions relate to the continuance and acquisition of culture and language. This qualitative study used a grounded holistic approach using Applied Anthropological Ethnography with Indigenous Theory. This research focused on themes of education, culture and identity, and discrimination and agency. The participants in this study consisted of twenty enrolled members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians living on the Snowbird Reservation. Eleven members had attended only local public school systems in the area. The other nine had attended the local public school system as well as either a boarding school or the Bureau of Indian Affairs run Snowbird Day School, which closed in 1963. An unstructured interview format was used to interview the participants, with the interviews lasting approximately 1.5 hours. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and a multilayer note-taking system was used to enrich the analysis. The transcribed data were treated as text with the data being analyzed for identifiers that could indicate something other than what the narrator offered, such as hidden emotions, double meanings, or the unacknowledged importance of a topic. An analysis of the data revealed that the Cherokee language is the key self-identifier of the participants and the issues of language, loss of culture and identity, and discrimination were apparent either implicitly or explicitly in each of the themes. These concerns were present in the participants who attended only the local public school system as well as the participants who attended the Snowbird Day School along with either none or other educational sites. Therefore, continuity was maintained among all participants. It was concluded that the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians living on the Snowbird Reservation struggle with continued language and identity loss as well as feelings of discrimination in educational settings. This study has the potential to serve as information for policy making, curriculum planning, and other various purposes in education.