Understanding youth cultures, stories, and resistances in the urban southwest: innovations and implications of a Native American literature classroom
This study examines the multiple and complicated ways that Native American students engage, accept, and/or reject the teachings of a Native American literature course, as they navigate complex cultural landscapes in a state that has banned the teaching of ethnic studies. This is the only classroom of its kind in this major metropolitan area, despite a large Native American population. Like many other marginalized youth, these students move through "borderlands" on a daily basis from reservation to city and back again; from classrooms that validate their knowledges to those that deny, invalidate and silence their knowledges, histories and identities. I am examining how their knowledges are shared or denied in these spaces. Using ethnographic, participatory action and grounded research methods, and drawing from Safety Zone Theory (Lomawaima and McCarty, 2006) and Bakhtin's (1981) dialogism, I focus on students' counter-storytelling to discover how they are generating meanings from a curriculum that focuses on the comprehension of their complicated and often times contradicting realities. This study discusses the need for schools to draw upon students' cultural knowledges and offers implications for developing and implementing a socio-culturally sustaining curriculum.