One cannot live down one's raising in a day: Seminole Education 1848-1930
Jennifer Johnson

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



University of Oklahoma

Primary Discipline

Utilizing archival methods, the goal of this project is to describe how the Seminole Nation asserted sovereignty through their educational institutions. A critical component to this study involves the translation of a selection of historical Maskoke texts and curriculum. Local histories, politics and geographies challenge settler colonization narratives about the formation of early schools in Indian Territory. Within this area, Tribally controlled schools shape our understanding of the history of American Indian Education as the struggle for school control was representative of a larger movement to assert Tribal sovereignty. This project advances our understanding of the Seminole Nation's educational institutions in the following ways. First, it reveals the autonomy that the Seminole Nation exercised over their schools during a tenuous time period. Second, my research strengthens our understandings of the ways in which the early formation of territorial schools was wrapped within a larger project of settler colonization meant to divest Tribal Nations of their sovereignty, land and property. Finally, this project contextualizes educational access for Seminole and Seminole-Freedmen students during Reconstruction through State Formation and ensuing Jim Crow legislation.
About Jennifer Johnson
Jennifer Johnson is an enrolled citizen of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma and is also of Sac & Fox descent. She is a PhD student in the Educational Studies Program in the Educational Leadership & Policy Studies department at the University of Oklahoma. Her entire career has been in service to Tribal Nations and communities. Jennifer earned a B.A. in Elementary Education and a Masters of Education in Curriculum & Instruction with an emphasis in Language and Literacy from Arizona State University. She was an elementary school teacher on reservations in Arizona and Florida. Jennifer later worked for her Tribal Nation as a part of a team that developed and implemented Maskoke language revitalization and documentation efforts. Her dissertation focus is on the History of Education within the Seminole Nation.

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