Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Advertise in our classifieds section
Your classified listing could be here!
October 4, 2022

Delay of Native Studies course approval raises community concerns

Atahan Koksoy
Kennedy Cortez, one of the Directors of Operations for UT’s Native American & Indigenous Collective on Sunday.

The Texas State Board of Education delayed the approval of curriculum standards for a high school Native Studies course.

The proposed course, Ethnic Studies: American Indian/Native Studies, is designed to help students gain a better understanding of indigenous history and culture in the United States. The course is an “innovative course,” meaning school districts can only offer the course with school board approval, according to the Texas Education Agency.

Board members said they delayed approval to allow more time for them to review the course content. Luis Urrieta, professor of cultural studies in education at UT, said courses like Native Studies are crucial for students to understand each other in a diverse world.

“To try to paint a picture of the society that we live in this one very narrow view,” Urrieta said. “Not only does it exclude people from seeing themselves in the curriculum (and) seeing their communities reflected in the curriculum, but it also doesn’t help people understand the other people that we live with.”

Neuroscience senior Kennedy Cortez said they think schools teach narratives of Native people in misrepresentative ways, so it’s important for these courses to accurately represent them. They said classes they’ve taken focused on the perspective of indigeneity from the settler-colonial perspective.  

 “(Not having these courses) is just taking away tools from our youth,” Cortez said. “(It’s taking tools) from our current society, to not only do better but to teach better and to grow and to recognize each other.”

Genevieve Schroeder-Arce, assistant instructor for the Indigenous Cultures Institute, said she feels frustrated with the delays of the course and that the delays serve as a disservice to the community.

“I don’t understand the reasoning other than we don’t want this history to be shared because it’s hard,” Schroeder-Arce said. “To dismiss that and to hide it, that’s not helping us move forward. … To me, that is the greatest conflict that’s plaguing our world, our inability to understand each other.”

The course was four years in the making and included input from members of the Indigenous community, said Marial Quezada, education programs director of the ICI.

“Those elements that are included in the course, that’s all been proposed by members of tribal communities,” said Quezada, a doctoral student at the University. “(They all have) this firsthand experience in the science, the intellectual traditions and contributions of these different tribal communities.”

More to Discover