Dr. Dean Chavers considers himself a lucky man. He was reading every book he could get his hands on by the time he was in fourth grade and his mother attended college.
Though generations younger, Rory Taylor calls himself an anomaly in Indian country. The 19-year-old Minnesota native from the Pawnee Nation is a sophomore at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., and his parents are college educated.
For some, this isn’t unusual; but too many “Indian students leave high school with only part of an education,” says Chavers, a Lumbee Indian from North Carolina. “The assumption remains what it was when the first federal schools for Indians started in the 1880s. Indian students are good with their hands, but the higher subjects of science, arts, language, and mathematics are considered too hard for them. Everyone expected Indians to be brick masons, hotel maids and mechanics; and some parents and teachers bought that.”
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