Thursday, November 27, 2003

Unbiased Teaching about American Indians and Alaska Natives in Elementary Schools. ERIC Digest.

Unbiased Teaching about American Indians and Alaska Natives in Elementary Schools. ERIC Digest. Happy Thanksgiving to all American readers! I hope you have a nice holiday. I tried to find a good information literacy site that related to Turkey Day but I had no success. Instead, I found an old ERIC Digest on PC sensitivity towards the indigenous population of North America. There is a section on Thanksgiving. Clearly, the story of Thanksgiving is different from what we were taught. This historical revision would be good fodder for a class discussion on history and info lit. Don't let it ruin your day though. Thanksgiving is what it is today, not what it was or may have been...

From the site:

"MYTH: Thanksgiving is a day of rejoicing that marks the advent of a mutually beneficial relationship between European settlers and Native peoples (see Ramsey, 1979).

FACT: The "First Thanksgiving" stories were actually created in the 1890s and early 1900s to promote the "melting pot" theory of social progress (Larsen, 1987). They are substantially inaccurate (Valdes, 1986). Today, the ethnocentric image of Thanksgiving is reinforced extensively in the media, by religious groups, and other social institutions.

This final example illustrates how teachers can--unwittingly--bring half-truths to the classroom. Actually, the "First American Thanksgiving" is an Indian tradition. It was probably first celebrated many thousands of years ago. Some Indian legends and traditions taught that the land and all things of nature must be respected and protected from overuse. Food was ritually respected in ceremonies that included prayers and the giving of thanks in honor of plants and animals.

Thanksgiving, the American holiday, has always been a time of people coming together; so thanks have long been offered for the gift of fellowship among us all. Teachers have an important opportunity to present Thanksgiving as a time for appreciating American Indians in an unbiased perspective--as they really were and are." Full article at: