“My grandmother first told me about Manifest Destiny in the context of genocide and brutal colonization of our ancestors. European colonizers used the idea of Manifest Destiny based in a righteous divine purpose to validate the killing, raping, and theft of indigenous land and ideas. She would often emphasize that though Manifest Destiny began hundreds of years ago, it is still alive in peoples’ ideas today. It is the cause for a corrupt notion of property rights that disregards the inherent rights and responsibilities that indigenous people have to the land. Manifest Destiny has led to the paternalistic treatment of tribes by the federal government articulated in policy and de facto treatment of indigenous people that sends a message of ‘we know what’s best for you’ and in fact ‘it’s our divine right to control you and your land base.’
“Because of my knowledge and personal experience with the idea of Manifest Destiny, I was shocked to hear it referenced in a speech by the New Mexico secretary of education as a positive baseline theory in our education systems. Everyone in the education field, especially the New Mexico secretary of education, has the responsibility to learn about the local context and culture of the people, if for nothing else than to better understand the thousands of children and families who are affected by their leadership. What message is proliferated by the validation of Manifest Destiny as quintessentially American?
“I understand that the intentions of these comments are based in the support of high-quality charter schools. However, there is no context that validates the use of this term in relation to progress without disregarding the brutal reality of what happened in this country’s history under the auspice of Manifest Destiny. We need to demand accountability of individuals who carelessly use terms that buttress domination and supremacy of one group over another. Accountability is necessary when considering that the individual who made these remarks is responsible for the leadership of an entire state’s education system.”