"Colonizing Minds: Public Education, the "Textbook Indian", and Settler Colonialism in British Columbia, 1920-1970"


  • Sean Foster Patrick Carleton Simon Fraser University




colonialism, education, textbooks, aboriginal people


This article examines the relationship between public education, the representations of indigenous peoples as the Textbook Indian in secondary school textbooks, and the struggle for settler hegemony in British Columbia between 1920 and 1970. In drawing inspiration from critical pedagogy, the ideas of Antonio Gramsci, and postcolonial theory, this work shows how education in general and textbooks in particular were powerful tools of a project of colonizing minds. The colonizing minds project refers to the state’s process of manufacturing and manipulating public education to justify and rationalize colonialism and the development of settler society in British Columbia to students as commonsensical. This article argues that the colonizing minds project was subtly refashioned over time to reflect the needs, struggles, and changing historical circumstances of settler society in British Columbia during the twentieth century.

Author Biography

Sean Foster Patrick Carleton, Simon Fraser University

Sean Carleton completed his MA in history at Simon Fraser University, under the supervision of Dr. Mary-Ellen Kelm.  His thesis was entitled, “Colonizing Minds: Public Education, the Textbook Indian, and the Struggle for Settler Hegemony in British Columbia, 1920-1970,” and was awarded Honourable Mention for the “Best English Language Thesis Published on the History of Education in Canada between 2006 and 2008” by the Canadian History of Education Association.  He plans to pursue Ph.d studies further examining the politics of colonialism, capitalism, and the rise of state schooling in British Columbia in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.