Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Native Americans were . . .

I came across a display by the after school program at the community center where I work occasionally. The kids, who are 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade, created a mini "museum" on an American Indian tribe for thanksgiving. I was standing there thinking how nice it was for the program to have the kids think about the outside world for a change (I find that a lot of my kids rarely leave New York or even Queens) when I noticed that all the "facts" about the American Indians were in the past tense - "Native Americans were connected with nature" was one of the worst. I have a big problem with the tendency to romanticize American Indians because it leads to stuff like this - the complete removal of Indians from the present day. It's particularly bad because New York City has the largest concentration of American Indians in any city in the United States. There are a couple of nice art exhibits by New York American Indians at the Smithsonian downtown, and I really wish I sent my kids there during the field trip to the Staten Island Ferry.

1 comment:

julie said...

... the "museum" idea is a good one, though. wouldn't it have been cool if the teacher had taken them to the Museum of the American Indian, had the class discuss what was good or bad about the exhibit, and then created their own? what about contrasting the exhibits in the AMerican Indian Museum wiht the exhibits in the Natural History Museum (where they are basically mannequins (ugly ones) dressed up in American Indian clothing)? What does each one say about whether or not they are a "living" people?

sorry, i'm in lesson planning mode. end of the semester in ed school and i'm planning a social studies "unit" on westward expansion.