Non-native people in the United States think about indigenous peoples. At Thanksgiving. When we hear the whole lovely story about how the Pilgrims invited the “Indians” to have a feast with them. Then they all held hands and sang “kumbaya.”
In the past couple years, I am given hope by school districts who are changing history. They teach a more realistic version of that “first Thanksgiving.” And they teach their kids it is not appropriate to dress up like indigenous people. Because it is not appropriate to use somebody’s identity like a costume.
But if your school district is still a bit behind the times, here are some links:
The information is starting to reach the mainstream; the Scholastic site specifically warns “Don’t have children dress up as ‘Indians,’ with paperbag ‘costumes’ or paper-feather ‘headdresses.’ Don’t sing ‘Ten Little Indians.’ Don’t let children do ‘war whoops.’ Don’t let children play with artifacts borrowed from a library or museum. Don’t have them make ‘Indian crafts’ unless you know authentic methods and have authentic materials.”
But the message from the minority to the majority takes a long time to filter up. It swims upstream. And it could use a little help.