Sociologist C. Wright Mills wrote many years ago, “Those who rule the management of symbols, rule the world.” For many Native Americans, symbols are ciphers of power, a type of symbolic “medicine.” I learned this at age fifteen, when I had the rare opportunity to live in a small village on a reservation in northern Arizona that has been home to Native Americans for thousands of years. My host was an elder designated by the tribe to convey its spiritual teachings to the outside world. He was someone who had had an audience with the Pope and addressed the United Nations General Assembly. What he shared during my stay more than twenty-five years ago remains with me today, and informs my approach as a digital media literacy educator working with Native Americans to promote interpreting and deconstructing symbols as a primary tool for critical digital literacy.
Citation: López, Antonio. “Circling the Cross: Bridging Native America, Education, and Digital Media. “Learning Race and Ethnicity: Youth and Digital Media. Edited by Anna Everett. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2008. 109–126.