Saturday, February 16, 2008

American Indians in Fact and Fiction: LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE

Classic and award-winning books of historical fiction suggest---powerfully---that American Indians were primitive people. Through these books, children are allowed to think that Indians were less-than-human. Primitive in lifestyle. Primitive in intellect.

But, that is not the case.

Here's a few facts to consider next time you read Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie.

Charles took his family into "Indian Territory" in 1868.

By then, about 800--yes, that's right 800--treaties had been negotiated between the tribes and the federal government.

Let's think about that word a minute...

"Treaty."

Treaties are legal documents. They are contracts whose terms are negotiated between two (or more) states.

In order to enter into a treaty, one state has to recognize the other as a state.

States are entities comprised of people with territories that are recognized by the other state, and, these state entities have systems of government. Both states have leaders who enter into diplomatic negotiations.

So. Laura Ingalls Wilder is giving you an image of Indians that is a disservice and an insult to who they were. I think you could say she does you (the reader) a disservice, too, leading you to believe something that is not true.

She isn't solely responsible for this disservice. She had help in preparing her manuscripts. And, she had an editor, too.

You might want to take a few minutes to peruse lesson plans teachers use when they teach this book in their classrooms. If you find one that challenges the ways that American Indians are depicted, let me know! I'd love to see one. Is there a lesson plan out there, that helps children see the errors in these images?
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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Leveled Readers featuring First Nations families

Just got this review (below) from Beverly Slapin... Lest you think these are only suitable for Native children, think again! Non-Native children learning to read by reading about Native families! I think that's terrific.

Best practice for young children is the here-and-now of their lives. That concept, however, seems to vanish when it comes to teaching anything about First Nations or American Indians. Instead of the here-and-now, kids in too many classrooms have the long-ago-and-far-away view of Native peoples.

These readers push us all to teach children that indigenous peoples are still here.

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[This review is by Beverly Slapin of Oyate and may not be published elsewhere without her written permission.]

Adams, Lorraine, and Lynn Bruvold, Eaglecrest Books: Leveled Readers. 2003, color photos.




Here are Louis and Annette, helping their rabbit prepare for her new bunnies. [Images from A Bunny to Love (Level 16)]




Here are Natalee and Josh, going on a dog sled ride. [Images from The Dog Sled Ride, (Level 16)]



Here is Kelley, teaching Martina how to dance and giving her the powwow regalia she has outgrown. [Images from The Powwow (Level 16)]



Here are Martien and his dad, going spearfishing. Here is Grandma, making new slippers for Danielle and Tahya. Here are Tiara and Kayla, going all the way to the store to get milk—without getting tired. Here is Hayley, figuring out why her cat, Bonkers, always seems hungry. Here are Alysha and Taneesha, fixing a flat bicycle tire. Here are real Indian children, belonging to real families and real communities, going about their lives. No made-up “myths and legends,” no self-conscious drama, no ethnographic expositions—just well-written, respectful little stories, supported by beautiful photographs that everyone will enjoy. This outstanding beginning-reader series will encourage empathy and discussion, and will motivate young listeners to read as well.

Set of 50 leveled readers, pb 325.00, available from Eaglecrest and  Oyate.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Recommended Materials: Boarding Schools for American Indians

As more resources and books are published on this topic, I will add them to this list. I highly recommend items listed here.

LITERATURE

Picture Books
  • Campbell, Nicola. Shi-shi-etko, Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2005
  • Campbell, Nicola. Shin-shin's Canoe, Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2008.
  • Santiago, Chiori. Home to Medicine Mountain, San Francisco, Calif: Children’s Book Press, 1998.

For Upper Elementary
  • LaFlesche, Francis. The Middle Five: Indian Schoolboys of the Omaha Tribe, University of Nebraska Press, 1978.
  • Loyie, Larry, and Constance Brissenden. As Long as the Rivers Flow: A Last Summer before Residential School, Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2003.
  • Sterling, Shirley. My Name Is Seepeetza, Groundwood Books, 1998.

Middle and/or High School
  • Qoyawayma, Polingaysi. No Turning Back: A Hopi Indian Woman’s Struggle to Live in Two Worlds, University of New Mexico Press, 1977
  • Tohe, Laura. No Parole Today, West End Press, 1999.

NON-FICTION, HIGH SCHOOL/COLLEGE

  • Adams, David Wallace. Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience 1875-1928, University Press of Kansas, 1997
  • Archuleta, Margaret, Brenda J. Child, and K. Tsianina Lomawaima (Eds.) Away from Home: American Indian Boarding School Experiences, Heard Museum, 2000
  • Child, Brenda. Boarding School Seasons: American Indian Families, 1900-1940, University of Nebraska Press, 2000
  • Cobb, Amanda J. Listening to our Grandmothers' Stories: The Bloomfield Academy for Chickasaw Females, 1852-1949. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000
  • Gilbert, Matthew Sakiestewa. Education Beyond the Mesas. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2010.
  • Johnson, Basil. Indian School Days, University of Oklahoma Press, 1995
  • Lomawaima, K. Tsianina. They Called It Prairie Light: The Story of Chilocco Indian School, University of Nebraska Press, 1995
  • Trafzer, Clifford E., Jean A. Keller, and Lorene Sisquoc. Boarding School Blues: Revisiting American Indian Educational Experiences, Bison Books, 2006.

WEBSITES


VIDEO

  • The Indian Boarding Schools: Keeping the Culture Alive, is a two-part series, prepared with the full participation of the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office. Go here to order the series and view the trailer.
  • In the White Man's Image, PBS, 1992
  • Shi-shi-etko, Moving Images Distribution, 2009.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Dovie Thomason: Lakota/Kiowa-Apache Storyteller


I spent much of yesterday with Dovie Thomason. She was at UIUC's Spurlock Museum for it's annual storytelling event.

I'd be willing to bet that most people---when they think of Native stories---think of stories about animals. That isn't a bad thing, but it isn't the only kind of story Native people tell.

Recently, Dovie is telling a very different story.

You can get her Lessons from the Animal People, or her Fireside Tales: More Lessons from the Animal People, or Wopila, a Giveaway: Lakota Stories from Oyate.

You can invite her to your school, or your college, or city, or performing arts center, to tell the stories of the Animal People.

But, consider inviting her to tell the story she told here yesterday: The Spirit Survives: The Boarding School Experience, Then and Now.

As she started, she said "There are some stories you don't want to tell your children. And, there are some you have to."

The story she's telling is among the too-many dark episodes in U.S. history about the ways this country has treated American Indians... It is among the stories that are completely left out of textbooks used in elementary or high school.

It is about Carlisle Indian Industrial School, established in 1879. The school was designed to "Kill the Indian, Save the Man." In her story, she talks about being at Carlisle a few years ago, with her daughter, standing in the cemetery, reading the headstones there. Headstones of children who were at that school.

To get in touch with Dovie, write to her at this address:
Dovie Thomason
P.O. Box 6351
Harrisburg, PA 17112
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