- Nov 2017
What, but education, has advanced us beyond the condition of our indigenous neighbours?
I completely missed this phrase and the connotation behind it the first time I read through this report. It is possible I missed it because I was distracted by the racism near the front of the report on the importance of the university’s proximity to white people. At first, I thought this sentence was just as inconsiderate and reflective of the time period in which the Rockfish Gap Report was written and in which our university was founded. However, upon further analysis of the question I realized that it seems as though the writers of the report are insulting themselves, in a way, with this choice of language. While I personally do not believe comparing oneself or others to indigenous neighbors is insulting, at the time it was not a common thing to do and would not have been taken as a positive comparison. However, in this sentence, the report’s authors seem to be saying that the only thing separating them from the Native Americans or “indigenous neighbors” is education. I find it very intriguing that the founders would write this, especially because of the connotation it would bring at the time. However, perhaps it is purposeful and a way to stress the importance of higher education and furthering oneself to remain advanced. Education can be tied to the many differences between the white man and the natives such as guns, housing differences, and clothing. I can’t forget to mention though that the education of the Native Americans on how to grow crops in North America is what allowed the early settlers to survive. Education was important in this area too. Maybe education does not differentiate these two groups as much as they may think. I think education in different areas of expertise is what mainly separates the men in this report from their indigenous neighbours. While they choose education in school and on more worldly matters, their neighbours are more education in the ways of the land and survival and both are important for each group's’ way of life