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4th Graders & California Missions

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  • Itzhecatl
    Word Amigo. Its sad. When there is opposition to these projects the schools push back. It’s something that has to be brought up at the state level.

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  • AmigoKumeyaay
    started a topic 4th Graders & California Missions

    4th Graders & California Missions

    The State of California insists on teaching history to glorify the "Missionary Era". Each year 4th grade kids (and their parents) are tasked with building a model of one of the 21 Spanish Mission buildings.

    There is very little, if any, history taught about the Natives that lived throughout what is now California for thousands of years PRIOR to the arrival of the Spanish colonizers.

    What Is the California Missions Project Teaching Kids About Native Americans?
    February 04, 2013 6:57 am by Grace Hwang Lynch in Family

    It's the time of year when fourth graders (and their parents) in California are breaking out the glue guns and sugar cubes, in the name of learning about history. For those of you who aren't familiar with this rite of passage, the state curriculum has for years included a chapter in which school kids make a model of one of the historic missions built by the Catholic church.

    My son did this assignment last year, and I was surprised at how much this project has changed since I was a child. An entire cottage industry has sprung up, selling everything from from templates to complete kits for these models, much to the dismay of the more creative teachers and parents.

    But for many Native Americans, it hasn't changed enough. The real problem lies in how indigenous peoples are addressed --or not -- in the curriculum. Deborah Miranda, author of the book Bad Indians, offers this explanation at her blog Bad NDNS:

    I think the effect of the typical Mission Project has been to not just implant racial stereotypes about Native Californians in children’s minds, but also to assert that those racial stereotypes are, in fact, okay – sanctioned by all of the authorities in a child’s life, from parents right on up the chain of school administration and into government. The result of that, of course, is a general public who does not question laws that discriminate against Native people, and which doesn’t even know how to have an civil conversation about historic wrongs, responsibility for justice, or compassion for communities suffering from historic trauma.

    Deborah has much more to say about the California missions project, and other representations of Native Americans at her website. I've also heard some school districts allow students to do a report on an Indian tribe, instead of a mission. Does your child's school teach Native American history?
    News and Politics Editor Grace Hwang Lynch

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