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Children's Thanksgiving Presentations - Where to draw the line?

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  • #16
    Originally posted by yellowthunders mama View Post
    We did a presentation on the day before thanksgiving for our son's Head Start class and the second graders joined us because they are learning about Native Americans in their class. We were prepared for the paper cut out outfits and decided not to take a confrontational stance given the age group of the children. We focused more on telling our stories and going from there. When my child walked in with his class in colorful headbands and colorful feathers, I just took the headband off of him before he sat down with us at the drum. I said nothing as I did this. My husband showed the children parts of his regalia and told the story of how he earned each of his eagle feathers. We sang a few songs for them and explained what each song meant and the context in which each song would be sung. It was the first time my son, who is three, wanted his own chair, rather than sitting on mine or my husband's lap. He sang very well for his classmates and we were very proud of him. At the end of the presentation, the second graders asked questions. One girl asked more details about the earning of the eagle feathers. Then she took her head band off and tore the wild turkey feather from it and gave it to my husband. Several other children followed, taking off their headbands, removing the feathers and giving their feathers to my husband. It was moving on several levels.
    Great story!
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    • #17
      Originally posted by yellowthunders mama View Post
      We did a presentation on the day before thanksgiving for our son's Head Start class and the second graders joined us because they are learning about Native Americans in their class. We were prepared for the paper cut out outfits and decided not to take a confrontational stance given the age group of the children. We focused more on telling our stories and going from there. When my child walked in with his class in colorful headbands and colorful feathers, I just took the headband off of him before he sat down with us at the drum. I said nothing as I did this. My husband showed the children parts of his regalia and told the story of how he earned each of his eagle feathers. We sang a few songs for them and explained what each song meant and the context in which each song would be sung. It was the first time my son, who is three, wanted his own chair, rather than sitting on mine or my husband's lap. He sang very well for his classmates and we were very proud of him. At the end of the presentation, the second graders asked questions. One girl asked more details about the earning of the eagle feathers. Then she took her head band off and tore the wild turkey feather from it and gave it to my husband. Several other children followed, taking off their headbands, removing the feathers and giving their feathers to my husband. It was moving on several levels.

      From the mouth of babes.....It's always amazing how wise they are....Great Story!!!

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      • #18
        Originally posted by yellowthunders mama View Post
        We did a presentation on the day before thanksgiving for our son's Head Start class and the second graders joined us because they are learning about Native Americans in their class. We were prepared for the paper cut out outfits and decided not to take a confrontational stance given the age group of the children. We focused more on telling our stories and going from there. When my child walked in with his class in colorful headbands and colorful feathers, I just took the headband off of him before he sat down with us at the drum. I said nothing as I did this. My husband showed the children parts of his regalia and told the story of how he earned each of his eagle feathers. We sang a few songs for them and explained what each song meant and the context in which each song would be sung. It was the first time my son, who is three, wanted his own chair, rather than sitting on mine or my husband's lap. He sang very well for his classmates and we were very proud of him. At the end of the presentation, the second graders asked questions. One girl asked more details about the earning of the eagle feathers. Then she took her head band off and tore the wild turkey feather from it and gave it to my husband. Several other children followed, taking off their headbands, removing the feathers and giving their feathers to my husband. It was moving on several levels.
        Wow, that's beautiful...I hope the teachers also learned from the children that day.

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        • #19
          Thank you. It is always good to share a little victory with folks that understand.

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          • #20
            I don't know if that would help if we have elder or two elders to explain about the regalia that natives wore. I guess it is kind of hard to find the right materials to make for little children, even at four years old. A lot of times kids like to cut out papers for feathers and headbands and put glue over other papers. I think the elder will make a good example of the stories about the First American celebrated with the Pilgrims during the Mayflower in the Fall or is that in the early Winter?
            If the teacher does not know about our native culture, then it is best to have an elder explain to the children and to the teacher too. I had some confusion years ago in 1955 when I was in elementary school and not getting enough feedback on our native culture because I was in a white mainstream school (deaf and hearing). We did not have an elder coming over to our classroom to explain this relationship between First American and Pilgrims, so that is the problem. I think you can try to do the presentation about your native culture on Thanksgiving feast.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by DeafToniB View Post
              I don't know if that would help if we have elder or two elders to explain about the regalia that natives wore. I guess it is kind of hard to find the right materials to make for little children, even at four years old. A lot of times kids like to cut out papers for feathers and headbands and put glue over other papers. I think the elder will make a good example of the stories about the First American celebrated with the Pilgrims during the Mayflower in the Fall or is that in the early Winter?
              If the teacher does not know about our native culture, then it is best to have an elder explain to the children and to the teacher too. I had some confusion years ago in 1955 when I was in elementary school and not getting enough feedback on our native culture because I was in a white mainstream school (deaf and hearing). We did not have an elder coming over to our classroom to explain this relationship between First American and Pilgrims, so that is the problem. I think you can try to do the presentation about your native culture on Thanksgiving feast.
              I do agree that it is good if you could have an Elder come an talk to the kids. But we just don't have the extra cash it would take to drive all the way to the rez and pick up Grandmother for an hour presentation and drive all the way back to the rez - a couple thousand miles. We are not of tribes from Virginia and made that clear. Our connection to Thankgiving is like most Americans - we eat and spend time with our families. And that was the point. We are your neighbors and classmates, not some historical figures from the past but right here and now in the present. We can only share what we do to celebrate who we are in the present day and hope for the best and that is what we got - an honest exchange.

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              • #22
                Got the note this week about needing a pillow case to make outfits!

                So I sent a note to the teacher that I wanted to discuss it. The teacher is being very open to changing the lesson. And looks like I'll be going to do a presentation for the kindergarten classes!

                It was nice to have a teacher be open to change.
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                • #23
                  Good to hear the teacher is open to change.

                  A number of years ago my daughter was involved in a musical in school that taught Western themed dance & music. The name of the presentation was "How the West Was Won" and it pretty much chronicled and glorified the idealism of "Manifest Destiny" through music and dance.

                  I made it a point to let the teacher know how inappropriate I thought this presentation was from my, and any other Native persons, perspective.

                  Words can't explain the blank, deer in the headlight look of this teacher....and I didn't even use any bad words!


                  .
                  Traditions.....keep them and keep them sacred!

                  I am NOT Indian. I have never been to India, nor has any of my family before me! I have met these people from India, of whom you speak, and I am nothing like them. Why do you call me an Indian?

                  .

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                  • #24
                    so it's that time of year again eh?

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                    • #25
                      Well, I think it is better not to have the presentations for the children in the play of our ancestors and what happen back in over a century during Thanksgiving Day. White teachers and others (non-natives) are not making the history right, and we might be offend what they are presenting about our native history. Now that it is a official Thanksgiving Day in both United States and Canada. We would rather celebrate Thanksgiving in our homes to just thank the Creator for helping us survive through the winter and having enough food from crops and Turkeys. Our ancestors are the ones that taught the white people to plant crops for food and to hunt for wild Turkeys. If white people don't like what we live in or be friends with, then that is too bad.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by giizhigokwe1966 View Post
                        The schools need to be educated. Usually they are happy to have someone come in to talk with them. In my school district, they asked a few people (enrolled members of their tribe) to come in and help them develop a new curriculum for American Indian art, one that is age appropriate as well as culturally appropriate.

                        A few years back, a nearby school made the paper with a photo of the children dressed in contruction paper headbands, bright colored feathers, and (get this) a paper grocery bag cut and painted to look like a buckskin shirt. I know they mean well, but it's such a joke. Imagine if a girl who really IS Indian were part of that whole paper bag Indians photo. Well guess what? In that photo, standing next to all of her classmates, was a Native girl wearing her own actual jingle dress. The only one who knew the difference between real and make believe.

                        Very few educators will reach out and ask for help (with their ignorance); however they tend to be happy if someone is willing to come in and help them learn.
                        Yes,over the years I have experienced many a childrens' and grandchildrens' play with the crumpled up grocery bag/ sack.When I speak about it to the principal they suggest I come in and talk about Indian culture.

                        Then again you have different tribes,some children do not want to participate,some children do not understand.You tell them its only pretend but why can't they wear their jingle dress to school.

                        Perhaps sometimes us parents should chill and educate our children and grandchildren on what is culturally correct.
                        Then hope and pray for the best.

                        I do sometimes feel that we have "people" who are ignorant,thinks its cute, and just plain don't know.These are the same teachers who teach our children/grandchildren they SHOULD know.Have a good one.

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