Anthropology, Department of



Mary Cornelius

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Published in Nebraska Anthropologist Vol. 17 (2001-2002). Copyright © Mary Cornelius; published by The University of Nebraska-Lincoln AnthroGroup.


Native American reservation schools have significantly higher dropout rates and lower graduation rates than the national average. Significant problems behind high dropout rates on Native American reservations in the United States include poverty, lack of support from elders and differing expectations and ways of communicating between teachers and students in the classroom. The history of Native American education includes many efforts at assimilation and the destruction of native cultural practices and languages. This still impedes today 's youth in that many elders still see schooling as a tool of assimilation and do not encourage or support success in what they see as the non-Indian world. Poverty and the lack of economic opportunities on many reservations discourage the effort needed to do well in school and complete an education, as jobs are often unavailable regardless of education.

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