Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Stereotyping, Bias, and American Indians

What are you doing at 11:00 AM on April 13th? Set aside an hour to attend a free, online conversation called "How do we change a stereotype?"

The session part of the Smithsonian Institution's Problem Solving with Smithsonian Experts series. The host for "How do we change a stereotype?" will be Paul Chaat Smith. I've written about him several times here on American Indians in Children's Literature. (See Paul Chaat Smith on Brother Eagle Sister Sky and The Education of Little Tree. And buy a copy of his book, Everything You Know about Indians is Wrong.)

The promo for the session is: 
The American Indian Experience: From the Margins to the Center
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) opened its doors in Washington in 2004. The goal? Nothing less than to change how we see the lives of Native peoples. NMAI curator Paul Chaat Smith leads a discussion on hard lessons and brilliant mistakes from the front lines of Washington’s most controversial museum.
Hard lessons? Brilliant mistakes? Most educators have been learned some hard lessons, and, we've made some brilliant mistakes, too! And why is it "Washington's most controversial museum"? I wonder what we will learn from Smith? I registered for the session and encourage you to do so, too. Go to "How do we change a stereotype" for details. The registration link is bottom right of the page.

As you think about your teaching---how, when, and why---you include American Indians, take a look at Julia Good Fox's blog post, "Texas is Not Alone: Moving Past U.S. Dis-education about Tribal Nations."  For those of you who follow Education news, you know she's referring to the textbook fiasco in Texas. Good Fox talks about her work with public school teachers. She is Pawnee.


Anonymous said...

This kind of change may have to to happen one school at a time. This week a group of parents met with staff of a "progressive" Seattle Public School to discuss the appropriateness of using Brave New World as a required text for 10th graders. This text repeatedly and casually refers to AI people as dirty savages. Unconscionable.

Debbie Reese said...

Yes, it does. The Native people in the book are Pueblo Indians. (I'm Nambe Pueblo Indian.)

From page 105:

"Bernard also laughed; after two grammes of sima the joke seemed, for some reason, good. Laughed and then, almost immediately, dropped off to seep, and sleeping was carried over Taos and Tesuque; over Nambe and Picuris and Pojoaque, over Sia and Cochiti, over Laguna and Acoma and the Enchanted Mesa, over Zuni and Cibola and Ojo Caliente, and woke at last to find the machine standing on the ground, Lenina carrying the suit-cases into a small square house, and the Gamma-green octoroon talking incomprehensibly with a young Indian."

Danielle said...

Thanks for the head up about this discussion! I'm writing my final paper for one of my LIS classes on Native American stereotypes and if they deserve protection under intellectual freedom. Hopefully this discussion will provide me with even more resources!

Debbie Reese said...

Hi Danielle,

You might want to take a look at the Hopi Tribe's statements on intellectual property. I blogged about it here: