Education sovereignty: Rowan Steineker, The Struggle for Schools: Education, Race, and Sovereignty in the Creek Nation, 1820-1907, dissertation, Oklahoma University, 2016
Abstract: This dissertation analyzes the relationship between education and nationhood in the nineteenth-century Creek Nation. Over the course of the century, Creeks adapted schools as part of a larger nation-building effort to shape their own society and defend their sovereignty. Creeks built an extensive primary and secondary school system, financed, legislated, and managed by their national government. Education became an important political institution, produced new cultural expressions, and reinforced Creek identity. While the Creek government designed these national schools to privilege Native children, they simultaneously segregated Afro-Creek students and excluded Euro-American youths. By the 1890s, however, the forces of settler colonialism and white supremacy drastically altered the state of education in Indian Territory. When Oklahoma entered statehood in 1907, the federal government dissolved the Creek national school system, mandating that Native students attend newly formed public schools with white children or federally controlled boarding schools. Meanwhile, Afro-Creeks and African American settlers became subject to Jim Crow segregation. Although federal policies had dissolved the state apparatus that facilitated public schools, education persisted as an important component of Creek life during the twentieth century.
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