Opinion: Critical Race Theory and Why Native Americans Need a Seat at the Table

Opinion: Critical Race Theory and Why Native Americans Need a Seat at the Table

Critical Race Theory has firmly cemented its place among the most discussed topics of 2021, with many members of the media and the academic community sharing their thoughts on how American racism has shaped our history, policies, laws and education.

The core idea of the theory is that race is a social construct that divides people by creating a hierarchy in society that affects political power, laws, social organization, education, health and outcomes. Critical Race Theory, according to some, forces people into one of two categories: victim or oppressor. Many critics claim it discriminates against whites.

However, there are some who believe Critical Race Theory, which dates back to the 1960s, can improve racial issues by providing diversity training and education to different disciplines.

The topic has spurred such a wide-reaching debate that many states are seeking to ban it before it is thoroughly examined.

But it begs the question: how does Critical Race Theory and its related discourse impact indigenous people?

Native American

Far too often, Native Americans—who account for roughly 2 percent of the U.S. population—become a footnote in discussions surrounding racial inequality. The topic of race is being hashed out on a national level, but indigenous people are seldom included in the discussion in meaningful ways. Make no mistake: we need to have voices in this arena, because the ongoing erasure of indigenous people will not be tolerated.

If included, indigenous people can steer the narrative, the educational aspects provided to various disciplines, and have a say in how much access Critical Race Theorists have to our culture, language, and history. Fundamentally, the concepts of racism, beliefs, and outcomes affect our children. If our children are old enough to experience racism, children from other races and ethnicities are old enough to learn the repercussions of their actions.

All of these different ideas, intellectual debates, and universal values may evolve as more people become exposed to different viewpoints. Yet, the subtext of Critical Race Theory is to equalize the playing field by exposing the damaging and demoralizing issues our children constantly face. And that cannot happen—really happen—without the contributions of First Nations individuals.

Critical Race Theory is still in limbo and some question its constitutionality due to its implications of race, lack of solutions and the aforementioned alleged increase in divisiveness. Conservatives have longed feared socialist and Marxist ideology in school systems and how the exposure would harm students. As schools become more diverse, cultural representation is more needed than ever before and indigenous people must be there to help lead the charge.

But first, we need a seat at the table.

About Jeanette Centeno

Jeanette Centeno (Taíno) is a nurse with 18 years of experience, ranging from Spinal Cord Injury patients to case management. She is committed to advocating for adequate healthcare and proper intervention for all people. Centeno currently works at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, one of the leading acute care hospitals in treating Spinal Cord Injury.

7 Comments on “Opinion: Critical Race Theory and Why Native Americans Need a Seat at the Table”

  • Avatar for H. Wolfe

    H. Wolfe


    White fragility comes to the forefront above critical thinking.

  • Avatar for Gary



    CRT is not a good idea from what I read it will make us totally a count the Haves and the Havenots

  • Avatar for Tammie



    My personal belief is that just like Asian Americans, Native Americans are not given a seat at the table because they have been treated worse, but have proven the ability to overcome.

    The current discussion regarding CRT is simply an attempt to win votes by saying one group is not responsible for their actions and circumstances since all other groups have risen up, regardless of mistreatment.

    While I hope for a seat at the table for first nation individuals, I cannot see that happening anytime soon.

  • Avatar for Delia C Monrreal

    Delia C Monrreal


    NO! CRT is totally wrong for people of color!!! Do your homework! It will only strengthen the White agenda.

  • Avatar for David



    CRT is just one of a ‘batch’ of the Critical Theories that all have Marxist proponents. Read Mark Levin’s ‘American Marxist, chapters 3-5 that focus on the origins and spread since 1989. Marxism, among other things, advocates for the destruction of the traditional family structure. They have a version dealing with gender that is leading to schools allowing biological males to compete and win against females who won’t have a chance (there’s a suit by 2 female runners who lost top spots in state ranking and scholarship opportunities in CT). there was a youtube video a couple of weeks ago of an irate (black) mother who was very upset that a person identifying as a male walked naked into the spa are reserved for women and girls, exposing himself to very young girls.
    The LatCrit version believes that the ‘Mexicans’ and central and south american indians are the true native peoples of all the americas. Of course the mexicans are made up of the original Spaniards (and Portuguese) who mainly came for gold and silver and literally murdered tens of thousands – not to mention leveling Teotihuacán (today’s Mexico city). That’s not to mention that of all the combination of nation/ethnicity that would represent the most hostile both from a european/spaniard/conquistador angle, as well as aztecs, who i believe were like native nazis. Their utter cruelty and conquest of neighboring tribes is the only reason that Cortez could conquer hundreds of thousands with only about 900 europeans. All native americans weren’t interested in battle on a small scale for honor.

    This is a huge topic. Mostly, though, it’s about destroying the American system and replacing it with a Marxist/Socialist structure. Conquest was the way of the world until the end of WW2. At the end of the war America could have (tried to) have as much of it as it wanted. we were the only nation whose manufacturing wasn’t a smoking heap. We had over 100 aircraft carriers, thousands of other ships, 60000 planes, 8.5 million men under arms around the world – and the ATOM BOMB. Instead, as the soviets (marxist/communists) took all of eastern europe for themselves, we launched the Marchall plan and spent years helping rebuild europe. We spent 5 years turning a truly racist/militaristic Japanese society into a beacon of democracy. Then as that 5 years ended, we rescued the S.Koreans from the communist/marxist North at a cost of 3 years of war an 50000 killed.

    Of the 13.5 million African slaves sent to ‘the americas’, 12 million or so survived. Only 5% were sent to N. America. Conditions and treatment on the sugar and coffee plantations, esp. in the Caribbean were so brutal that slave usually lasted less than a year. Coincidentally, Haiti represented the only slave rebellion in world history to succeed. They modeled their gov. after the US and there was a movement for many years to make them a us state (after the civil war – grant was very interested). Even in America where slavery wasn’t ‘as’ bad it was a horrible institution. Much worse than is usually shown on tv or movies. The reconstruction era was truly murderous. Many whites died (republicans after the North quit sending troops) died along with blacks.

    I might also point out that the same supreme court that gave us one of the worst rulings in history (1896 Plessy v Fergusson) making way ‘legal segregation’ under ‘separate but equal’ ruling, also gave us an equally wrong ruling two years later in wong v u.s. that gave us the anchor baby situartion. But that’s another overly long reply. They’ve never reviewed that ruling on the14th amendment with regard to the anchor baby aspect, ever. They’ve made lots of rulings and upheld other parts of it, but not that one. Wong was denied entry due to discrimination against chinese at the time. his parents had moved to the u.s. and had legal papers. they moved back to china and he went and visited them. he was refused reentry. he was born of parents with the legal right to be in the u.s. The illegal immigrants having children in american do not have that right.

    To close, i found your article thoughtful, but lacking in the understanding and ultimate goal of those promoting it. I’d l would enjoy a correspondence with you on the topic if you are open to it.

  • Avatar for chooch



    Hoping that the First Nations of North America have a seat at the table.

    • Avatar for Lillian Jane Steele, MA

      Lillian Jane Steele, MA


      I am LJ Steele and my mom was a part of the North Georgia Cherokee Community but unenrolled. She got her heritage from her mom who was my grandmother and my grandmother got hers from both of her parents. My dad was African-American with his heritage coming from Western and Eastern Africa. My mom’s mom helped to raise us and we were taught to respect all people. I learned American Indian and African American History first followed by Ancient History. Mom was a teacher so I was exposed to how some people did not like her because she was too smart for them and also they became jealous of her. My brothers and I had it bad in some cases but both parents along with my mom’s mom taught us to be strong and also to discuss how to face this stuff. All of our 560 plus Nations need a seat at the table if we are going to survive at all and I will not stop until I see that we indeed have a seat at the table because I love my dual heritage a lot. Chooch I am with you on this. LJ Steele,MA Educator

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