This thesis will look at Paul Jensen while he was an education professor at Western Oregon State College in Monmouth, Oregon, and his role in Alaska Native education while working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Dr. Jensen's work coincided with the last twenty-five years of Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) involvement in Native education in Alaska. The final era of BIA education spanned the time following Alaska statehood in 1959 to the placement of the last BIA school into the Alaska State Operated School System in 1987.
Some of the programs on which Jensen worked originated with him and some were mandated through the BIA. The Cultural and Academic Enrichment Program is an example of one of Jensen's own programs while the Bilingual Education program is an example of the latter. This thesis will examine these programs, the nature and depth of Jensen's involvement in Alaska Native education and fit him into a reference point with respect to BIA policy and philosophy.
Jensen's main work was with the Yupiks of west-central Alaska; he wanted to accomplish two things: (1), educate Native Alaskans and (2), preserve Yupik culture and language. The BIA's history of acculturation in dealing with American Indians/Alaska Natives appears to be in direct opposition to Jensen's stated desire to preserve Native culture. I will focus on the question of whether Paul Jensen was an assimilationist or a preservationist. At times he appears to be a religious missionary structuring his work on his religious upbringing and beliefs; he also appears to be a BIA assimilationist following strict guidelines to moving the Yupiks into modern American society. Whichever role he follows, he insists that he is a preservationist of culture.
To get a full picture of what Paul Jensen was attempting to accomplish I will be looking at the history of major contact between the Yupiks and those outside their culture, namely the Russians and Americans. Included will be an ethnographic study of Yupik life ways with particular reference to their traditional education and how it differed from that brought by American religious missionaries, the Bureau of Education and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Finally I will look at Jensen's work with Alaska Natives, his methods of teaching, and his beliefs about Yupik culture.
I will be using historical texts for an analysis of the missionary and BIA education programs as well as ethnographic studies made by some of the early explorers, scientists, and missionaries that provide background material pertinent to Yupik lifestyle. Included in this study will be interviews both with administrators and teachers who worked with Jensen, and non-professionals who took part in his programs. Much of the information for this thesis comes from Jensen's own files contained in the archives of the Paul Jensen Arctic Museum in Monmouth; some of the information is from the many recent texts relating to Alaskan history as well as articles about Native education found in professional journals. There have also been many recent publications from Alaska Natives that deal with the effects of first contact with outsiders and the changes in Native society. An analysis of these materials with particular regard to Jensen will present a picture of his motives, his goals, his achievements, his understanding of the Yupiks and whether he truly worked for preservation of their culture.
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