The October 10 holiday (known to most as Columbus Day) is nearing and we want to take some time again to encourage our CREAD community to use this time of the year to decenter the dominant and romanticized narrative of Columbus and shed light and better understanding on the people he and many other European colonizers came in contact with. As our Sept. 28 post points out there are numerous resources available to us. I might add that there is even a directory of Native American heritage sites throughout the U.S.
But I would like to encourage you to heed CREAD Commandment #5: Expand the repertoire of resources used in your schools. Indigenious People’s Day (IPD) is a great opportunity to explore the wealth of teaching materials and content that you can explore with your students. Below are just a few ideas you may want to consider to share and discuss with your classes.
Here at CREAD we love a good meme so this one featuring Biggie can be a great way to open up a dialogue about IPD with your students. This image of Notorious should certainly make kids laugh, but more importantly with further examination, can provide them with an entry point to discuss and begin to dismantle long-held notions about who is considered worth celebrating in our history.
Another great resource is found at the National Museum of the Native American, which has an extensive catalog of indigenous media from North, Central, and South America, the Pacific region, and the Arctic Circle. There are many wonderful stories and perspectives that can be discovered as part of your classroom conversations about the indigenous. There is even a documentary, American Red and Black:Stories of Afro-Native Identity that explores the importance of knowing one’s heritage and the complexity of being Afro-Native.
Finally, looking at the beauty of words whether it be proverbs, poems or creation stories we can gain insight into the wisdom and values of the Native American culture and contributions. However you choose to celebrate IPD it is my hope that you and your students will be richer for and understanding that as we gain insight into the rich histories of indigenous people that their own images, stories and contributions are even more important.
Earth, Teach Me
Earth teach me quiet
as the grasses are still with new light.
Earth teach me suffering
as old stones suffer with memory.
Earth teach me humility
as blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth teach me caring
as mothers nurture their young.
Earth teach me courage
as the tree that stands alone.
Earth teach me limitation
as the ant that crawls on the ground.
Earth teach me freedom
as the eagle that soars in the sky.
Earth teach me acceptance
as the leaves that die each fall.
Earth teach me renewal
as the seed that rises in the spring.
Earth teach me to forget myself
as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me to remember kindness
as dry fields weep with rain.
An Ute Prayer
Deep thinkers only