Thursday, November 28, 2019

Disrupting the Myth of Thanksgiving

Our current read aloud, INDIAN NO MORE, has given us lots to think about and discuss. INDIAN NO MORE is historical fiction. It tells about how, in 1954, the US government stripped the tribal status from the Umpqua people, proclaiming them to no longer be Indians. Our conversations are centering around the stereotypes we have about Native people, empathy for what it would be like to have an important part of your identity taken from you, and appropriate responses in a democracy to laws that are unfair. 

Looking at Thanksgiving from the perspective of Native people has disrupted the commonly told story of the Pilgrims and Indians. Along with our read aloud, we have watched several videos in which Native girls address stereotypes about Natives and about Thanksgiving, and one of our teachers brought all the conversations to life (literally) when she came and talked to us about her perspective on Thanksgiving and American History as a registered member of the Sioux tribe. 

One of the things I love most about teaching fifth grade is that 10-11 year-olds are developmentally ready to consider multiple points of view. It is my greatest desire that my students will leave my class questioning "truths" that they are taught from a single point of view, and that they will constantly ask, "Whose voice is not being heard? Which perspective is not being included?"

With that, I will wish you an informed Happy Thanksgiving -- not one that honors the story of the colonization of our country, but rather one that traces further back to the greater human history of giving thanks for food and family.

by Charlene Willing McManis and Traci Sorrell
Tu Books, 2019

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