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When Teaching About Native American Peoples:
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Understand the term "Native American" includes
all peoples indigenous to the Western Hemisphere.
Present Native American Peoples as appropriate role
models to children.
Native American students should not be singled out
and asked to describe their families' traditions or their peoples'
Avoid the assumption there are no Native American
students in your class.
Use books and materials which are written and illustrated
by Native American people as primary source materials: speeches,
songs, poems, and writings, which show the linguistic skill of
a people who have come from an oral tradition.
When teaching ABC's, avoid "I is for Indian"
and "E is for Eskimo."
Avoid rhymes or songs that use Native Americans as
counting devices, i.e. "One little, two little, three little..."
Research the traditions and histories, oral and written,
of Native Americans before attempting to teach these.
Avoid referring to or using materials which depict
Native Americans as "savages," "primitives,"
"The Noble Savage," "Red Man," "Red Race,"
"simple," or "extinct."
Present Native American Peoples as having unique,
separate, and distinct cultures, languages, beliefs, traditions,
Avoid materials which use non-Native Americans or
other characters dressed as "Indians."
Avoid craft activities which trivialize Native American
dress, dance, and beliefs, i.e. toilet-paper roll kachinas or
"Indian dolls", paper bag and construction paper costumes
and headdresses. Research authentic methods and have the proper
materials. Realize that many songs, dances, legends, and ceremonies
of Native American Peoples are considered sacred and should not
be "invented" or portrayed as an activity.
If your educational institution employs images or
references to Native American peoples as mascots, i.e. "Redskins",
"Indians," "Chiefs," "Braves," etc.
urge your administration to abandon these offensive names.
Correct and guide children when they "war whoop,"
use "jaw-breaker" jargon, or employ any other stereotypical
Depict Native American peoples, past and present,
as heroes who are defending their people, rights, and lands.
Avoid manipulative phases and wording such as "massacre,"
"victory," and "conquest" which distort facts
Teach Native American history as a regular part of
American History and discuss what went wrong or right.
Avoid materials and texts which illustrate Native
American heroes as only those who helped Europeans and Euro-Americans,
Use materials and texts which outline the continuity
of Native American societies from past to present.
Use materials which show respect and understanding
of the sophistication and complexities of Native American societies.
Understand and impart that the spiritual beliefs of Native American
Peoples are integral to the structure of our societies and are
not "superstitions" or "heathen."
Invite a Native American guest speaker/presenter to
your class or for a school assembly. Contact a local Native American
organization or your library for a list of these resources. Offer
an honorarium or gift to those who visit your school.
Avoid the assumption that a Native American person
knows everything about all Native Americans.
Use materials which show the value Native American
Peoples place on our elders, children, and women. Avoid offensive
terms such as "papoose", and "squaw." Use
Understand that not all Native American Peoples have
"Indian" surnames, but familiar European and Hispanic
names as well.
Help children understand Native American Peoples have
a wide variety of physical features, attributes, and value as
do people of ALL cultures and races.
Most of all, teach children about Native Americans
in a manner that you would like used to depict YOUR culture and
© 1998; Ableza Institute