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#566801 - 11/24/09 12:48 PM No Playing Indian at Thanksgiving
Nicki - BF & EC Editor Offline
BellaOnline Editor
Gecko

Registered: 10/13/07
Posts: 602
This week, literally hundreds of thousands of children in the US will dress as "Pilgrims and Indians" and "re-enact" the first Thanksgiving. But is this appropriate? Or historically correct?

Here's my articles about how this issue exploded in my own hometown (with the debate ongoing.. today on Facebook for example, as the two schools in my article share their slightly modified tradition today). I was not aware of this issue before this happened in my community, and I no longer believe it is appropriate for schools to do these activities.

Please read my articles on this subject below and join the discussion. This subject tends to create strong opinions. Only civil, respectful discussion/debate on any side of the issue will be permitted on this board.

The Claremont Thanksgiving Debate
No Playing Indian at Thanksgiving
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#566818 - 11/24/09 01:30 PM Re: No Playing Indian at Thanksgiving [Re: Nicki - BF & EC Editor]
Lisa LowCarb / VideoGames Offline
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Registered: 01/05/04
Posts: 20853
Before I read your articles, I want to say my gut reaction is that this is the one time of year that kids all over the US learn about native American cultures. Often they aren't doing it at any other time. I have several native American tribes in my genealogy and I treasure them greatly. So I've always been happy that kids are fascinated by them and actively writing me for information at this time of year about them.

To me it's sort of like kids learning about the Revolution at July 4th. They might not dress up in exactly accurate costumes, but the fact that they're trying and are interested in the history is inspiring to me.

OK I'll go read the articles now.
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#566833 - 11/24/09 02:23 PM Re: No Playing Indian at Thanksgiving [Re: Lisa LowCarb / VideoGames]
Vance Offline
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Wolf

Registered: 12/22/05
Posts: 5377
Loc: Gloversville, New York
I am in agreement with Lisa. I have not read the articles yet either but just wanted to say that the children and even adults need to learn more about the Native American heritage and culture including the first Thanksgiving but not from what school text books have to say about it.
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#566870 - 11/24/09 04:32 PM Re: No Playing Indian at Thanksgiving [Re: Vance]
Lisa LowCarb / VideoGames Offline
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Registered: 01/05/04
Posts: 20853
OK I've read the articles.

While I agree that colonists were nastily brutal to the natives - and that many native tribes were nastily brutal to colonists - I also think it's a good thing to celebrate native American cultures. If we have chosen Thanksgiving as "the holiday" to celebrate them, then that is fine with me. They don't have another holiday, and I don't think they're going to get another one any time soon.

Yes, the natives held "thanskgivings" at other times too. Yes, the colonists held "thanksgivings" at other times too. But there WAS one specific time that they held the event together, and it is nice to remember that. In a way (for Christians) it's like celebrating the nice time of Jesus' birth even though there were many other nasty incidents in his life too.

I do agree we should teach the FULL culture of native Americans in an age appropriate way. Little six year old's don't need to learn about bloody head scalping on either side.

In terms of the legitimacy of dress-up, many of the soldiers in the American Revolution didn't have outfits - or even shoes. We don't make our kids go barefoot and rag-tag when they pretend to be soldiers. Kids dress up as princesses and King Arthur all the time. It's traditional to dress up in the "fanciest dress", not in the clothes of a middle aged serf.

So again, even after reading that, I feel that it is *awesome* kids are getting excited even in a small way about Native American culture and that as they grow they can learn about it in more depth. If we never kindle that spark, then we can't get it to grow later on.
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#567261 - 11/25/09 04:38 PM Re: No Playing Indian at Thanksgiving [Re: Lisa LowCarb / VideoGames]
ChelleT&L Offline
Chimpanzee

Registered: 09/03/05
Posts: 7165
Loc: Lake Lanier, Georgia
I do think it is a good point not to perpetrate the myth of "Indians" helping out the poor pilgrims, though. It has taken a lot of time for me to get that idea out of my head.

We have a black history month here in the US, it seems like we should have a Native American history month as well (or do we already and I just don't realize it?)

Nicki's point about changing the curriculum and likening it to what they did with Pluto makes sense. Yes, we do need to teach our children about Native Americans and Pilgrim - but we should do so accurately.

I don't see the problem with dressing up, however. Like Lisa said - we often go to the farthest extreme when dressing in a period stereotype. When a young lady dresses up for "Gone With the Wind - sje goes for Scarlett O'Hara, not one of the field hands.

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#567588 - 11/27/09 05:01 PM Re: No Playing Indian at Thanksgiving [Re: Nicki - BF & EC Editor]
Phyllis Doyle Burns Offline
Highest Posting Power Known to Humanity

Registered: 11/17/07
Posts: 17644
Loc: Reno, NV
Nicki, I read both articles and am pleased to know that there are others who have the same feelings I do about the "Thanksgiving Myth". In my NA forum I rarely mention Thanksgiving because it is a sensitive subject to most Native Americans. One friend of my forum says the "first Thanksgiving was meant to be a goodbye party for the pilgrims" - history shows us that the pilgrims did not get that.

The "history" taught in grade schools about the Indians and Pilgrims is based on facts but has been stretched way out of proportion and gilded to the point of becoming a fairy tale.

Squanto, who allegedly came as a friend to help the starving pilgrims learn what seeds to plant for food, was a member of the Patuxet tribe which belonged to the Wampanoag confederation. Prior to 1614, little is known about Squanto and his early life. An interesting biography of Squanto can be read at
Squanto

Even as a child, I often wondered how was it that Squanto could speak such good English at that time - did he attend college? No - he and several other members of his tribe were captured, shipped to the Straits of Gibralter and sold into slavery. He learned English while in captivity while his whole tribe was wiped out back home from plague.

Personally, I think the PBS documentary, We Shall Remain, should become part of the school curriculum. This film portrays a 300 year history at the heart of America and is much more accurate than the myths now taught in school. The entire episode can be viewed online at We Shall Remain

It is not an easy film to watch for Native Americans and may be too graphic in some parts for young children, but, it is very well documented and needs to be told and learned.


Edited by Phyllis, Native American (11/27/09 05:02 PM)
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#567614 - 11/28/09 02:02 AM Re: No Playing Indian at Thanksgiving [Re: ChelleT&L]
Phyllis Doyle Burns Offline
Highest Posting Power Known to Humanity

Registered: 11/17/07
Posts: 17644
Loc: Reno, NV
Originally Posted By: Spirituality&SFFMoviesEd

We have a black history month here in the US, it seems like we should have a Native American history month as well (or do we already and I just don't realize it?)


Michelle, November is Alaska Native and American Indian Heritage Month. I have a thread on it at:
Heritage Month

For more info and events listing check out the following link:
2009 ANAI Heritage Month



Edited by Phyllis, Native American (11/28/09 02:11 AM)
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Walk in Peace and Harmony.
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Avatar: Fair Helena by Rackham, Public Domain

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