“On Colonizing Education” By Chief Canassatego Education is usually viewed with a positive connotation. Chief Canassatego, however, sees education as a burden and a set back to his culture. The Virginia government offered Chief Canassatego formal education for his people, leaving him grateful for the opportunity, resentful of the “colleges of the northern provinces,” unsure of the future. (Cumulative) To Chief Canassatego, the consequences of education are too great to ignore, such as men of his tribe forgetting how to do the seemingly simple tasks that the tribe has done daily for years upon years.
Should he allow his people to leave the tribal ways? Should he risk the undermining of his culture? Should he allow his people to forget the skills and teachings of generations that came before? (Rhetorical) After spending an extended period of time living like the people of Virginia, the young men came back, and when they did, “they were bad runners, ignorant of every means of living in the woods, unable to bear either cold or hunger, knew neither how to build a cabin, take a deer, or kill an enemy, spoke [their] language imperfectly…” He feels resentful that his people have been uncultured by the colleges in Virginia.
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Along with feelings of resent, Chief Canassatego also feels gratefulness towards the people of Virginia for giving his tribe such an extraordinary offer. Though the offer is good in theory, Chief does not like the numerous negative consequences. As a chief, Canassatego was open to a relevant education; as an Indian, he was closed to a formal education. (Balanced) Similar to his feelings of gratefulness, Chief Canassatego feels so appreciative of the offer that he reciprocates the offer to the Virginians.
He does not want to reject them completely so he offers up a compromise: instead of sending his tribe to them, he suggests they send “a dozen of their sons” to teach them their ways. Eventually, out of the confusing issue related to accepting the offer, Chief Canassatego counters with a compromise. (Periodic) He feels understanding towards the Virginians. Although he disagrees with their methods of education, he understands that “different nations have different conceptions of things. Understanding that concept helps him to deny the offer kindly and try to compromise with them. In essence, even though he rejects the offer, Chief Canassatego feels resentful towards the “Colleges of the northern province,” but also feels grateful and appreciative to have been offered such an opportunity. He understands that they have conflicting methods of education, and he even reciprocates the offer.