Free to Be Mohawk: Indigenous Education at the Akwesasne Freedom School

Front Cover
University of Oklahoma Press, Nov 12, 2015 - History - 240 pages
Akwesasne territory straddles the U.S.-Canada border in upstate New York, Ontario, and Quebec. In 1979, in the midst of a major conflict regarding self-governance, traditional Mohawks there asserted their sovereign rights to self-education. Concern over the loss of language and culture and clashes with the public school system over who had the right to educate their children sparked the birth of the Akwesasne Freedom School (AFS) and its grassroots, community-based approach. In Free to Be Mohawk, Louellyn White traces the history of the AFS, a tribally controlled school operated without direct federal, state, or provincial funding, and explores factors contributing to its longevity and its impact on alumni, students, teachers, parents, and staff.

Through interviews, participant observations, and archival research, White presents an in-depth picture of the Akwesasne Freedom School as a model of Indigenous holistic education that incorporates traditional teachings, experiential methods, and language immersion. Alumni, parents, and teachers describe how the school has fostered a strong sense of what it is to be “fully Mohawk.” White explores the complex relationship between language and identity and shows how AFS participants transcend historical colonization by negotiating their sense of self.

According to Mohawk elder Sakokwenionkwas (Tom Porter), “The prophecies say that the time will come when the grandchildren will speak to the whole world. The reason for the Akwesasne Freedom School is so the grandchildren will have something significant to say.” In a world where forced assimilation and colonial education have resulted in the loss or endangerment of hundreds of Indigenous languages, the Akwesasne Freedom School provides a cultural and linguistic sanctuary. White’s timely study reminds readers, including the Canadian and U.S. governments, of the critical importance of an Indigenous nation’s authority over the education of its children.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

Drums along the St Regis
An Indigenous Model
ha and the Akwesasne Freedom School
What Kind of Indian Are You if
BecomingFully Mohawk
Final Thoughts on SelfDetermination
References

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2015)

Louellyn White is an Assistant Professor in the First Peoples Studies Program at Concordia University in Montreal. Her work has been published in the Encyclopedia of American Indian History and the American Indian Culture and Research Journal.

Bibliographic information