June 10 Readings
For this set of readings you are looking at Phil DeLoria's _Playing Indian_ and an excerpt from _Rethinking Columbus_. You also should be reading around in Debbie Reese's blog, American Indians in Children's Literature. My post here serves to open the space for your comments, and I will post a longer comment before class. I'm hoping that you will take on more of the discussion in class :-)
6/6/2014 11:10:27 pm
“Rethinking Columbus” made me even more aware of how the usual teachings to children are not only accurate, but are unfair to the Natives. This reading was very eye-opening and questions the traditional Columbus myth. One of the goals of this piece is mentioned on page 11 when the author writes, “We hope to encourage a deeper understanding of the European invasion’s consequences, to honor the rich legacy of resistance to the injustices it created, to convey some appreciation for the diverse indigenous cultures of the hemisphere and to reflect on what this all means to us today.” Unfortunately many teachings neglect the Native’s side of the story, which I find even more unfair because they didn’t have a say during the 1600’s and suffered a lot because of the English and they don’t get any credit or justice to this day. This reading emphasizes how children should know the real story of how this land came to be. There is another quote that caught my eye when the author writes, “We can choose whether to reverse the legacy of injustice or continue it” (11). This is absolutely true because the world has the choice to alter teachings so they are told accurately, yet we stick to the same story because it was told so much. I liked the comparison to this situation with Thomas Jefferson because we hear a lot about how he was a great and educated man, but people leave out the fact that he was a slave-owner. What they found was no mentioning of the realistic harsh violence that occurred and a student mentions how they make the story “rosy.” It will be difficult to try to tell students that what is in their textbooks isn’t accurate, but I think it should be done because we need to change how America doesn’t want to recognize Indians from years ago or modern-day. The section on “finders, keepers” was really interesting because it takes the idea of taking someone’s belongings, in this case a purse and puts into perspective what the English did to the Natives. This piece ends with a simple thought-provoking question: “How can I make it better?”
6/9/2014 07:42:37 am
“Playing Indian” discusses a recurring theme from the recent class readings; removal of Indians from society. Deloria specifically notes that “after Indian removals, Americans often denied the physical and social presence of real Indians” (90). Anglo-Americans knew full well that Indians still existed because they continued to have contact and discussion with them, but it was simpler to believe everything connected to the Native people was extinct. The reading discussed how “They [the Anglo-Americans] desired Indianness, not Indians” (90). In other words, behaviors, traditions, and rituals that make someone an Indian (according to the white Europeans) were attractive; however the physical being of Indians taking up space on the land was of no use. Anglo-Americans were and are more than happy to participate in the cultural aspects of Native American life, but they are not willing to view the people who are bound to the traditions to be seen as living authentic Natives. Just look at American pop culture with the acceptance of “Indian” Halloween costumes and Native headdresses as fashion statements. Americans want to “dress up” like Indians and take part in the “Indianness” without acknowledging or respecting the people and customs from which their so called costumes and fashion derive. What a truly American notion to only take the parts of a culture that we like while having a complete disregard for the feelings of the people on the other side?
6/9/2014 11:47:15 pm
Phillip Deloria’s “Playing Indian” opens by setting the scene of the Boston Tea Party. The Tea Party itself is most often recalled to have to famous acts: the dumping of the tea into Boston Harbor and the “attack” of white men dressed up as indigenous people. The act of impersonating Indians is something that would be considered a negative act in terms of cultural appropriation. I found it particularly interesting that one of the tea ships involved in the Boston Tea Party was named Dartmouth. Today, the town of Dartmouth has many Native American associations. Though the town was originally intended for Puritan settlement, it was eventually purchased by the Wampanoags in exchange for goods.
6/10/2014 12:46:12 am
“Rethinking Columbus” was a great read and I really enjoyed the new perspective on teaching. This reading not only identifies the problem with teaching about our early American history but also with teaching in general. Too often teachers obsess with trying to find things that teach the truth. “Rethinking Columbus” shows us that it is okay to use a resource in order to promote critical reading. It is important for teachers to realize that you can use a source that is not necessarily the best in order to teach critical reading, a skill that is lacking in most academics today. A lot of children are not taught how to critically read and think and so when they are asked to do so at high grade levels they do not know how. Many kids take everything they read literally, especially in a world where everything you could want to know is at your fingertips in the form of a phone, tablet, or computer. We should not only “rethink Columbus” but we should also rethink all of our lessons. By incorporating more critical reading and analyses into everyday lessons, in every subject, we can potentially prepare our students for a better future and education. I really enjoyed this reading and hope to incorporate it into my teaching.
6/10/2014 01:18:04 am
I really liked all of the different ways that teachers can present the truthful story of Columbus to their classrooms that were presented in “Rethinking Columbus”. Unfortunately, teachers have to first address the fact that almost everything they’ve been taught in previous years is a lie, and then move forward as to how Columbus actually treated the Indians. When Jan Elliott recounted her experience at the movie theater after seeing Dances with Wolves, it made me angry at the man’s ignorance to Indians. The fact that people think that there are no longer Indians in the United States just because no one walks around dressing like a stereotypical Indian, is mind boggling to me. Also, the fact that people (even me) could be so unaware of all of the racism and poverty that the Native Americans have to deal with on a daily basis. It makes me wonder this information is not more common knowledge, or why it took until my junior year of college to hear about it. I really liked the quote by Suzan Shown Harjo, “It’s difficult to take seriously an apology that is not coupled with atonement. It’s as if they’re saying, ‘I’m sorry, oops, and we’ll do better in the next hemishpere’” (12). This helps to outline Harjo’s point that the U.S. government is not helping the Natives like they promised to over 400 times. Every treaty and agreement has been broken. This also shows how the mistreatment has never gone away, and that it has lasted all this time.
6/10/2014 01:58:26 am
In “Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years” edited by Bill Bigelow and Bob Peterson and “Playing Indian” by Philip J. Deloria, it brings me back to the days when I was learning about United States history through the public school system. It wasn’t until I was older, some in high school and college, where I learned of a different perspective on what really happened in the past.
6/10/2014 02:03:14 am
The provided reading from “Rethinking Columbus” provided insight on the mythological aspect of Christopher Columbus ‘discovering’ America and redefines the myth as a foundational lie in the discourse of winner’s history taught in the public education system. The objective of the book (from which the excerpt is derived) is to question the myth that has dismissed the humanity of an entire population of people. The Columbus narrative appropriates the acceptance of one group of people to claim and control the land of a distant, non-white other in the name of “civility.” Ultimately winner’s history neglects those of abjection in society, the solution seems inarguably to cut the skewed misrepresentation of Native American people and glorification of the invasion of a slave trader off at the beginning of the educational process; that which parallels the beginning of colonization of America.
6/10/2014 02:16:03 am
Looking through Debbie Reese’s blog, I stumbled upon a post about the American Girl Doll Kaya. I was really interested in reading this, because I was in love with the American Girl Doll company as a child, though I had Samantha and not Kaya. My parents always praised the company because of the historical details in the back section of the book and I had almost every accessory my Samantha Doll could have. I was saddened to see that my experience with an American Girl Doll did not translate well to other dolls. Reese writes about how false the “historical” information is, “The Kaya series exactly illustrates the problem with which we are constantly contending: It’s almost impossible to tell another people’s story in a believable way, no matter how good one’s intentions may be and no matter how many cultural advisors there are.” Simple elements of the Kaya stories are wrong, from Kaya’s name origin and her relationship to her father, all the way to the position in which she was sitting. Even in a Native American doll gets discriminated against. Reese recalls looking for Kaya in the main room of the building where all the other historical dolls are featured but is unable to find her. When she approaches a sales person about the situation, the sales person says they moved Kaya to a different room because she has less accessories than the other dolls. A reader of the post comments and says “Even Kit, the doll that depicts the Great Depression period has more accessories than Kaya. It's this inability to see American Indian culture as equally complex and sophisticated as White culture that just burns me up.” Looking towards the future I had always planned on buying my daughter an American Girl Doll but it seems I may have to rethink that.
6/10/2014 02:16:45 pm
The beginning of “Rethinking Columbus” did an impressive job of catching the reader’s attention. While reading about Jefferson High School’s 500th anniversary celebration of Columbus I couldn’t help but laugh. The students not only affectively made their audience re-evaluate the social and ecological consequences the Europeans made, but it also squashed the myth of “discovery”. Most history books fail to address that Native Americans faced racism, economic exploitation and struggled to resist the colonist’s idea of “civilizing” them. The main goal of teaching a more accurate history is not to “demonize Europeans”, but to allow students to have a better understanding for diversity and the injustices that racism creates. By telling both the Native and European side to history, it allows students to make their own opinions and makes for better class discussion.
6/10/2014 02:17:59 pm
which they created. Maybe that makes me narrow-minded in the sense to think that these people could have changed their views as time past, but my biggest frustration with reading about US history is all the racial divide and need for control. The Native people could have connected the Europeans to the land and exposed them to their culture, but the need to control was more important.
Leave a Reply.