Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Straight as an Arrow

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Straight as an Arrow

Article excerpt

When it comes to promoting education, Dr. Don Trent Jacobs--most commonly known as "Four Arrows" --favors unconventional pedagogical approaches to teaching and learning.

For several decades now, Four Arrows has carved out a distinguished career as a writer and professor known for championing the rights of Native Americans. He has also used his prominence to call attention to the plight of indigenous peoples in the United States and around the world.

"I really believe that the dominant culture and the dominant worldview approach to education is largely hegemonic," says Four Arrows, who lives in a small Mexico fishing town about three hours from Puerto Vallarta. "It's way past time for us to find new ways to prepare people for the next seven generations. We can do this when we just let go [of] the hegemonic views of the world."

With Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek) and Scots-Irish ancestry, Four Arrows' mother steered clear of teaching her children about their Native American heritage, largely because she wanted to protect them from widespread discrimination directed against Native Americans, he relates.

But after a stint in the Marine Corps, Four Arrows went in search of his heritage and forged a connection with the indigenous Native Americans, even taking up sun dancing.

After spending several years in various jobs, including public school teacher and lecturer, and earning a Ph.D. from Columbia Pacific University, Four Arrows enrolled at Boise State University. There he earned an Ed.D. in curriculum and instruction with a focus on the indigenous populations in the United States and the world.

A prolific author who has penned a multitude of books, chapters and essays, Four Arrows accepted the deanship of the School of Education at Oglala Lakota College on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Shortly after he arrived, the school had lost its accreditation. Under his leadership, though, within 18 months its accreditation was fully restored, he says.

"That was my first real exposure of the problems and beauty of indigenous people struggling to survive," says Four Arrows, who lived on the reservation with his wife and rode a horse to work. …

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