The Forum: Journal of History


Julia Taylor


This article explores American colonial education in Micronesia from the final months of World War Two to the late 1970s. The primary research question concerns American usage of education to pursue political and military goals, and how this affected multiple dimensions of Indigenous life. Although the dominant narrative at the time blamed Indigenous people for difficulties in implementing American education, the Western values permeating the American consciousness significantly inhibited the possibility of success as Americans defined it. This article details American motivations and efforts to implement an educational system as part of a larger goal of “economic development” and analyzes the effects that this imposition had on Indigenous populations, particularly in consideration of the fact that the creation of “Americanized” Micronesians and a cooperative political unit in the Pacific were highly desirable for American strategic interests. Indigenous adoption of American education demonstrated that they were active participants in this process, though, and adoption of foreign institutions secured avenues of advancement for many Micronesians. This ability to use education for their own means ultimately became a centerpiece of both cultural and political independence movements. The number of concerned parties and players coupled with the realities of globalization and peripheralization make this story complex, if not paradoxical, at times. As a result, the role of education in the region is still contested today and the various effects that it had on Indigenous peoples make it a living remnant of the colonial past.