Archive for Monday, November 28, 2005

Other creation stories deserve respect

November 28, 2005


Whose version of intelligent design is this?

As indigenous people, we have experienced a long history of the forced imposition of religion through educational, judicial, political and government systems since contact with those who sought to escape religious persecution in their homelands by coming to America. In the name of God, our people have been slaughtered and our religions, systems of government and education have been oppressed. Imposed systems of religion and education have been used in an effort to indoctrinate indigenous people into a status of inferiority, and our children, homelands and resources have been stolen to advance the religions and civilization of our oppressor.

Contrary to prevailing stereotypes of tribal peoples, First Nations societies had and continue to have systems of spiritual beliefs or religions that are practiced in ceremonies and reflected in world views and philosophies that continue to be lived today. Our creation stories explain the genesis for every element in this world.

Our sacred origin stories undergird our cultures, our ways of life and provide instruction in the original teachings given to our people by the Creator about how we are to conduct ourselves on this creation. In spite of the fact that these homelands are where we were placed by Creator, indigenous people still must fight in the courts to protect our spiritual ways and sacred places to practice our spiritual/religious ways today.

Proponents of intelligent design have been successful in their argument to impose biblical philosophies of Christian-based creationism as the alternative to scientific theories of evolution in public schools. They have acquired control of the State Board of Education to advance their agenda and ensure control of state-wide curriculum according to their religious beliefs and philosophies. Intelligent design proponents maintain their curriculum poses no danger to the constitutionally defined separation of state and religion that is a hallmark of American democracy, but instead provides a viable alternative to evolution.

These proponents of intelligent design seemingly are oblivious to the historical subjugation of indigenous people and others that has been advanced in the name of religion; of the mistreatment, abuse and violence that occurred as a result of state-imposed religion; or the multiple ways indigenous spiritual practices were outlawed, declared illegal and suppressed. Perhaps they are aware and believe such mistreatment was justified because we did not follow their ways.

What is disturbing in its absence from those who advocate a single religious-based belief of creation (intelligent design) over all others is a history of respect and tolerance for the creation stories and world views of all civilizations. Those who argue for intelligent design in public schools are not promoting inclusion of the creation stories of indigenous people of the Americas, the world and from all religions. Instead, intelligent design has been narrowly crafted to support inclusion of a single design of creation in their larger agenda to support a single, state-based religion from which to view the world and to justify oppression of those who differ.

Venida Chenault, a Prairie Band Potawatomie and Kickapoo, is a Lawrence resident.


DuQuesne 12 years, 6 months ago

It has always been the colonizer's burden to demonstrate as quickly as possible to indigenous peoples that their concept of Creator, Creation and their own sovereignty are all wrong and has most easily been accomplished through the discovery of resources - such as oil and gold - which are immediately useful only to the colonizer. Eventually it is to the detriment of colonized and colonizer alike that this premise proves itself false.

Godot 12 years, 2 months ago

My guess is that Chenault has not even read the BoE science standards. If so, she missed this paragraph from the standards:

"Evolution is accepted by many scientists but questioned by some. The Board has heard credible scientific testimony that indeed there are significant debates about the evidence for key aspects of chemical and biological evolutionary theory. All scientific theories should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered. We therefore think it is important and appropriate for students to know about these scientific debates and for the Science Curriculum Standards to include information about them. In choosing this approach to the science curriculum standards, we are encouraged by the similar approach taken by other states, whose new science standards incorporate scientific criticisms into the science curriculum that describes the scientific case for the theory of evolution.

We also emphasize that the Science Curriculum Standards do not include Intelligent Design, the scientific disagreement with the claim of many evolutionary biologists that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion. While the testimony presented at the science hearings included many advocates of Intelligent Design, these standards neither mandate nor prohibit teaching about this scientific disagreement."

Godot 12 years, 2 months ago

Perhaps this paragraph from the science standards will help allay her fears about Christian indoctrination:

"Teaching With Tolerance and Respect Science studies natural phenomena by formulating explanations that can be tested against the natural world. Some scientific concepts and theories (e.g., blood transfusion, human sexuality, nervous system role in consciousness, cosmological and biological evolution, etc.) may differ from the teachings of a student's religious community or their cultural beliefs. Compelling student belief is inconsistent with the goal of education. Nothing in science or in any other field of knowledge shall be taught dogmatically.

A teacher is an important role model for demonstrating respect, sensitivity, and civility. Science teachers should not ridicule, belittle or embarrass a student for expressing an alternative view or belief. In doing this, teachers display and demand tolerance and respect for the diverse ideas, skills, and experiences of all students. "

kcwarpony 12 years, 2 months ago

My guess is Ms. Chenault has read the document but, like every other Indian, knows that words are just words. "Documents" don't carry a lot of weight with us, we've seen how well they've work for us in the past. I agree with Ms. Chenault, xtian beliefs have been forced on us from the first landing and it continues right up to the present. Some Native prisoners are still having to right for they rights to practice their spirituality and in Indian Country I have heard that more law enforcements officers are showing up at powwows and ceremonies to confiscate eagle feathers from Indians who have a legal right to own them, feathers that have been in families for generations. I have no doubt that somewhere down the road, teaching ID will to used to as a form of assimilation. My biology teacher said it best. At the beginning of the school year when he passed out the textbooks, he pointed to the Theory of Evolution chapter and stated, " In school, we will learn about the theory of evolution, if you want to learn about creationism, go to church."

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