- A unique aspect of this study is that it involves an unusually
large number of individuals of American Indian descent. The sample
population was composed of those Indian members of the 1962 high
school graduating class from a six-state area. The selected graduates
came from local public, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and private
secondary schools located in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana,
North Dakota and South Dakota.
The graduates of the 1962 class were selected to be studied as
they would have completed their educational experiences or become
employed in a selected vocation and would have established a life
The model used for data collection was designed and completed
in large part by Indians. The data were collected in two parts. The
first part was information of an autobiographical nature and was
oriented to characteristics that included the usual vital statistics,
degree of blood quantum, residence at time of interview, ability to
speak an Indian language, importance of speaking an Indian language,
The second part of the data collected was information gathered
by interviews and involved those factors of self-perception such as
effect of peer group association, attained success, source of information
on post high school education, educational and employment opportunities,
Half of the total sample population was asked to respond to 84
questions. When tabulated, significant statistical difference was
found in 15 of the questions. In five categories of questions, the calculations
indicated that chi square values at the .05 level of statistical
significance occurred. The remaining ten calculations have chi square
values at the .01 level of statistical significance.
In the analysis of the areas where significant statistical differences
were observed, only three questions could be classified in the
areas defined as characteristics. The conclusion was reached that the
Indian has been assimilated into the dominant culture in far greater
degree than even the Indian realizes or is willing to admit.
The remaining categories of questions, where significant statistical
differences were indicated, occurred in the area of self-perception.
These differences reaffirmed the conclusion that the Indian high school graduate perceived the educational experience in a
negative manner. Another conclusion drawn was that the Indian's low
self-image is being reinforced by his formal education. The Indian
is becoming increasingly cognizant of this disparity although there
have been great sums of money and effort expended to assist the Indian
in overcoming these negative self-perceptions. Inherent throughout
the individual responses dealing with the Indians' self-perceptions, the
underlying but obvious theme was that the formal education being received
was not meeting the needs of individuals. Thus, Indians could
not successfully compete in employment or advanced educational opportunities.
These deficiencies were perceived as detrimental to the
individual Indian and are contrary to the philosophical objectives of
secondary education in the United States.
One of the stated objectives of Indians is to be educated and
therefore able to compete on equal terms for educational and employment
opportunities within the dominant society. Another goal is to
retain as much of their culture as is possible to maintain and develop
their Indian identity.
The long history of the dominant society's attitude toward the
Indian and his education is one of debasement which leaves a stigma
on the individual. Such an attitude tends to minimize the Indian's
individual goals and potential for self-direction, creativity, and
flexibility in educational opportunity and newly emerging life styles.