Column: Indian education sacrificed for 'culture'
"Among the interesting people encountered by my wife and me, during some recent vacation travel, were a small group of adolescent boys from a Navajo reservation. They were being led on a bicycle tour by a couple of white men, one of whom was apparently their teacher on the reservation.

The Navajo youngsters were bright and cheerful lads, so I was surprised when someone asked them in what state Pittsburgh was located and none of them knew. Then they were offered a clue that it was in the same state as Philadelphia but they didn't know where Philadelphia was either.

These Navajo boys seemed too bright not to have learned such things if they had been taught the basics. They also seemed too positive to be the kinds of kids who refused to learn.

The most likely explanation was that they were being taught other things, things considered "relevant" to their life and culture on the reservation.

These youngsters are not just members of the tribe on the reservation. They are also citizens of the United States of America, and have a right to be anywhere in this country, from Florida to Alaska.

Whether they want to stay on the reservation when they are grown or to take advantage of the many opportunities in the wider world beyond the reservation is a decision that should be theirs to make when they reach adulthood.

But those opportunities will be gone, for all practical purposes, if their education does not equip them with the knowledge that is needed to bring their natural abilities to the point where they are capable of doing all sorts of things in all sorts of places."

Get the Story:
Thomas Sowell: Cultural Heritages (GOPUSA 6/26)