School of Education reaches Native American roots

By on October 18, 2013

The School of Education is bringing Quinnipiac back to its roots by applying for two grants, both related to Native American history.

School of Education professors, Mordechai Gordon and Susan Clarke worked together to apply for a grant that will design a new course for undergraduates called Enduring Questions. Ultimately, the course is meant to set up a framework for students to be able to answer one question: What is social justice?

“Quinnipiac University presents a fertile ground in which to introduce a course on the origin history, meaning social justice,” Gordon said.

The grant is projected to enlighten students with information about Quinnipiac’s Native American history and the importance it holds within the school. Clarke hopes Quinnipiac becomes a “very conscious and awake” university regarding its native roots.

Nevertheless, the recent grants are simply meant to expand the learning curriculum that is taught at Quinnipiac. The university has many connections with Native American history, and Clarke and Gordon feel the school consists of the perfect learning environment in order to teach the students about the history behind it all.

“My hope is that we can wake up,” Clarke said.

In fact, many students remain unaware that Quinnipiac is named after one of the first Native American tribes to inhabit the area, and was considered the first indigenous peoples to be put on a reservation by the English in the late 1630s.

Even the name Quinnipiac holds several different meanings. Some theories suggest the name means “people from the long-water land,” or “long-water land or country.” State names like Connecticut and Massachusetts both derive from Indian tribes. Descendants of the original tribes reside in Connecticut today, but people are oblivious to that fact as well.

“It is probably safe to presume that most have not had any contact, let alone meaningful dialogue with the Native Americans that still live in Connecticut,” Gordon said. “Besides maybe the invitational visits to the Mohegan Sun resort casino. This grant has already been submitted and currently awaits approval for funding.

Clarke, however, went on to pursue another grant, one that is intended to draw teachers from public schools across the country to Quinnipiac’s campus in order to study.

“We’re interested in the School of Ed to provide or to get enough material to encourage K-12, including them in the curriculum,” Clarke said.

Like Gordon, Clarke acknowledges the fact that the university rests upon an American Indian reservation, but most students do not realize this.

“We are walking on a very sacred place, somebody else’s place,” Clarke said. “And I think it makes us a better people to pay attention.”

Clarke’s ultimate goal is to receive grants that will help promote the study of New England tribes, and to get funding that will bring teachers to Quinnipiac so a renewal of a study of New England tribes will be imbued into the curriculum.

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