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Copyright 1995 ABC-CLIO. This review was taken from the ABC-CLIO Video Rating Guide for Libraries on CD-ROM, a 5-year compilation of over 8900 video titles and reviews, 1990-1994. For information regarding order VRGL CD-ROM, contact: ABC-CLIO, P.O. Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911; 805-968-1911

This following text has been included in the UCB Media Resources Center Web site with the kind permission of the publishers.

Teaching Indians to Be White

  • Series: Before Columbus
  • Rating: ****
  • Audience: Jr. High to Adult
  • Price: Public performance: $89.95
  • Date: Copyright 1993. Released 1993.
  • Descriptors: Indians of North America - Education. Education.
  • Production Information: Live action, Film transfer, Stills. Produced by Brian Moser. Directed by Brian Moser. Narrated by Michael Wood. Color, b&w . Also available in 3/4 inch. Stereo. 30 min.
  • Production Company: Central Productions 6111 Broadway San Antonio, TX 78209 (210) 828-6097, (800) 766-5375
  • Available from: Films for the Humanities and Sciences PO Box 2053 Princeton, NJ 08543 (800)257-5126
  • Cataloging: 306.08'97 Indians of North America - Government relations||Indians of North America - Cultural assimilation||Indians of North America - Social conditions
  • Print Entry #: 4:1221
  • Reviewer: Cheryl Stiles

    This brief but effective program chronicles the attempts to integrate native children into dominant society through educational means. As one episode in the ambitious six-part series Before Columbus, this program is told entirely from the perspective of the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere. It is purposefully expressed as a "one-sided story" - the other side of the Columbus discovery saga not often revealed in textbooks. Suitable for junior high school through general adult audiences, Teaching Indians to Be White provides a new and much-needed perspective on a historically controversial subject.

    The program surveys the earliest use of education as a tool to "turn Indians into a dull underclass of inferior whites." Archival black-and-white footage of missionary training films demonstrates the effects of mission schools on the Tukano of Colombia. Further archival footage and old black-and-white photographs show residential schools where many of the Cree children of Canada were stripped of much of their language and values. After historical examination, the program shifts to reveal the contemporary response to this educational process. A small group of independent Seminole of Florida resist contemporary public education while the nearby Miccosukee have embraced it. Many of the Cree people have reclaimed their schools and are actively teaching their ways and language. Despite their commercialization by mainstream society, the Zuni of New Mexico still maintain their "secret Indian universe" and have successfully integrated many Christian and Native American ways into their lives.

    The technical production aspects of the program are unsurpassed. Archival photographs and film footage are seamlessly interwoven with the live-action shots. All titles and graphics are effective and legible. From the Celtic-influenced dance music of the Cree to the contemporary rock songs of the Miccosukee to the traditional drum beat of a Zuni kachina dance, music adds a provocative and moving emotional element to the production. The sparse narration by Michael Wood lends continuity to a program that features so many individual voices.

    Because it is so impeccably produced and offers a seldom-told perspective, this program is highly recommended. All libraries wishing to enhance their collections in social science, general history, or Native American studies will want to consider the purchase of this video.

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