So we’re only 3 days into Native American Heritage Month and it’s never too late to acknowledge and celebrate the original people of this country.
Yesterday, we spoke about the Dakota Access Pipeline Protest but we must be very careful. We have to ensure that when we talk about Native Americans we are not just talking about death, murder, genocide, protest and all the ways the European invaders came and conquered and still insist on conquering today.
There is a rich culture and vibrant history outside of the gaze of European colonization.
When I was a Global History teacher I would always start the semester comparing and contrasting creation stories. I would choose the monotheistic story of Adam and Eve and compare it to one of the many tribes of the African continent, compare that to an indigenous creation story, compared to an Asian one and compare all of that to evolution.
As an Earth Science teacher, my colleague would always connect the indigenous reverence for nature to the exploration of rocks, soil and weather patterns.
As an Elementary school teacher, my colleague would ensure that she found any coming of age storybooks to read for the month of November to ensure that her students were able to see the indigenous as full and complete people much like themselves.
Remember that this month is about celebration and giving our students a chance to discover the beauty of the original people of this country.
Finally, you can engage in this discovery with your students. You can do an old fashioned KWL chart. Ask your students what they know about the indigenous of this country, what would they want to know (have some pre populated questions) and then spend the month discovering together. We don’t need to have all the answers, we just need to be their guide on the discovery of the answers. And of course, end up with what we’ve learned. Allow the students to represent what they’ve learned through the written word, with visual representations and of course musically.
Yes, we must always be critically conscious and speak to injustice AND we must also ensure that we see people, beyond their worst moments and deepest obstacles.