Some Thoughts On Teaching About Native Americans by John A. Duerk
In US History class, two of the most invaluable lessons I taught involved the voyage(s) of Christopher Columbus and President Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal policy. With regard to the lesson on
In American Government class, I taught a provocative lesson on the case of Leonard Peltier, an American Indian Movement activist who is serving two consecutive life sentences for the killing of two federal agents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in
As a social studies teacher, I tried to provide my students with as much information as possible to build their knowledge base, promote analytical thinking skills, and stir their desire to question the institutions around them. Looking back, there is so much more I wanted to do, but alas, I made a serious effort to address the Native American experience in my classroom. Young people need to learn more about life here before the colonists arrived, and then trace that history to the present to fully understand how our country came to be. They must confront the uncomfortable realities we now live with. Only through critical inquest will we uncover truth. Only through reexamining our perceptions can we bridge the social, political, and economic divides between people. The public school system is one place where genuine change can begin when young people are nurtured with the proper instruction. If there is to be some justice for surviving indigenous peoples, then we owe them a significant place in our curriculum.
John A. Duerk is a Ph. D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at
Duerk’s Resources for Teachers:
American Indian Movement website: http://www.aimovement.org/
"The Journey of Christopher Columbus" website: http://www.glencoe.com/sec/socialstudies/btt/columbus/
Leonard Peltier Defense Committee website: http://www.leonardpeltier.net/
No Parole Peltier Association website: http://www.noparolepeltier.com/
Peltier, Leonard. 1999. Prison Writings: My Life is My Sundance.
Stannard, David E. 1992. American Holocaust: The Conquest of the
Treen, Joe. 1992. A Question of Justice. People Weekly. 4 May, v37, n17, p. 36-39.
Wallace, Anthony F.C. 1993. The Long, Bitter Trail: Andrew Jackson and the Indians.
Wilson, Wendy S. and Herman, Gerald H. 2000. Unit 3: “Andrew Jackson and the Removal of the Cherokee Nation” (Mock Trial) in Critical Thinking Using Primary Sources in US History.