Do you think about Native Americans when it isn’t Turkey Day?

Do you think about Native Americans when it isn’t Turkey Day?


Teaching Kids the Wonderful Diversity of American Indians
The awareness teachers and parents need to teach Head Start children about American Indians accurately and respectfully.

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The truth about feathers and headbands: We are all familiar with the popular use of a headband with one feather or a headdress containing numerous feathers (warbonnet) as symbols for Indian imagery. And many of us encourage our children to make feather headbands – after all, we made them when we were kids. But these headbands are a trite representation of American Indians.
Historically, eagle feathers were worn only by certain members of the Plains cultural groups who had distinguished themselves as worthy of such adornment.

Toy manufacturers typically misrepresent American Indians by creating toys that, for example, mix the tipi from the Plains culture or the totem pole from the Northwest Pacific Coast groups with the Navajo rug, loom, or desert plants from the Southwest groups.

A challenging and rewarding undertaking:
Not all American Indian communities have had the same historical experience and because each American Indian is unique, what may be offensive to one may not be offensive to another. For example, most Native Americans find the popular Head Start song “Ten Little Indians” offensive. But others don’t mind it. One American Indian Head Start teacher sings an enlightening variation of the song in which she adds verses for “Ten Little Mexicans,” “Ten Little African-Americans,” and so on.

The diversity of American Indian cultures is so grand that it may be challenging to comprehend. Yet, as educators and parents, it is our responsibility to try. Just the act of trying to inform ourselves about American Indians is a great sign of respect. And using your new knowledge and common sense will go a long way in helping us successfully determine how to best teach our children about American Indians.


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