When Indigenous and Modern Education Collide

  • Alberto Arenas
  • Iliana Reyes
  • Leisy Wyman
Part of the Globalisation, Comparative Education and Policy Research book series (GCEP, volume 6)


There are an estimated 300 million indigenous people worldwide, roughly 5% of the world’s population (UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, 2004). Despite this significant presence, national schooling systems have ignored, minimized, or ridiculed their histories pre- and post-Western contact, as well as their cultural contributions toward social and environmental sustainability. Only since the 1960s have ministries of education around the world, regional entities, and community-based groups set up education programs that seek to rescue and protect the values, practices, languages, and knowledge systems of indigenous groups, including their relationship to local ecosystems; social relationships within each group; subsistence-based production, such as agricultural, pastoral, and hunting and gathering techniques; and lang­u­age, art, games and other cultural aspects (e.g., Barnach-Calbó Martínez, 1997; Hernández, 2003; May, 1999; May and Aikman, 2003; Neil, 2000). These educational efforts have sought to recover indigenous peoples’ own history and identity to help them resist the pressure to assimilate into the surrounding dominant societies.


Indigenous People Language Policy Minority Language Indigenous Group Bilingual Education 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors would like to thank Professor Teresa McCarty for her invaluable support in the preparation of initial versions of this article. Any remaining mistakes are ours alone.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of EducationUniversity of ArizonaTucsonAmerica

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