Thinking of the approaching holiday and my teacher friends

For an Indian, who is also a school teacher, Thanksgiving was never an easy holiday for me to deal with in class. I sometimes have felt like I learned too much about “the Pilgrims and the Indians.” Every year I have been faced with the professional and moral dilemma of just how to be honest and informative with my children at Thanksgiving without passing on historical distortions, and racial and cultural stereotypes.

The problem is that part of what you and I learned in our own childhood about the “Pilgrims” and “Squanto” and the “First Thanksgiving” is a mixture of both history and myth. But the THEME of Thanksgiving has truth and integrity far above and beyond what we and our forebearers have made of it. Thanksgiving is a bigger concept than just the story of the founding of the Plymouth Plantation.

So what do we teach to our children? We usually pass on unquestioned what we all received in our own childhood classrooms. I have come to know both the truths and the myths about our “First Thanksgiving,” and I feel we need try to reach beyond the myths to some degree of historic truth. This text is an attempt to do this.

Teaching About Thanksgiving (2nd Edition) is a teaching manual originally written and developed by Cathy Ross, Mary Robertson, Chuck Larsen, and Roger Fernandes – Indian Education, Highline School District, WA. Introduction (in part quoted above) by: Chuck Larsen, Tacoma School District. Originating at The Center for World Indigenous Studies in Olympia, WA.

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