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Brief Introduction to the History of Alaska Native Education

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The 'Molly Hootch' case changed the course of Alaska education, finally ending the physical consequences of the prior era of segregated schooling and different opportunities for Alaska. Typically the territory, and later the state of Alaska, provided local high schools for predominately white communities. Alaska Native communities schools were operated by the Federal government and a variety of church mission schools. Alaska Natives were allowed to attend territorial school only if they were at least "mixed- breed" and "lived a civilized life."

The coming of citizenship for Alaska Natives, in 1924, under the Indian Citizenship Act, Alaska Native participation in World War II, and the eventual coming of statehood did not bring any sense of responsibility by the state for the education of all the children of the state. It was not conscience or a sense of responsiblity that finally allowed Alaska communities with Alaska Native populations to enjoy the same right of sending children to high schools located in their communities - it was the result of a class action lawsuit filed nearly twenty years after Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka. [link to Timeline]

The following documents include the amended class action lawsuit of Molly Hootch, a description of the case by one of the attornies who represented Alaska Natives in the suit, the original "Nelson Act of 1905" that reaffirmed and carried forward this shameful chapter in Alaska education, and the settlement of the Molly Hootch case in Tobeluk vs. Lind. It should be noted that although the case was settled out of court, the state of Alaska did agree with the facts of the case concerning the racially discriminatory history of their educational practices.