Article Index:

Appropriate Methods When Teaching About Native American Peoples

Research the traditions and histories, oral and written, of Native Americans before attempting to teach these.

Avoid referring to or using materials which depict Native Americans as "savages," "primitives," "The Noble Savage," "Red Man," "Red Race," "simple," or "extinct."

Present Native American Peoples as having unique, separate, and distinct cultures, languages, beliefs, traditions, and customs.

Avoid materials which use non-Native Americans or other characters dressed as "Indians."

Avoid craft activities, which trivialize Native American dress, dance, and beliefs, i.e. toilet-paper roll kachinas or "Indian dolls", paper bag and construction paper costumes and headdresses. Research authentic methods and have the proper materials. Realize that many songs, dances, legends, and ceremonies of Native American Peoples are considered sacred and should not be "invented" or portrayed as an activity.

If your educational institution employs images or references to Native American peoples as mascots, i.e. "Redskins", "Indians," "Chiefs," "Braves," etc. urge your administration to abandon these offensive names.

Correct and guide children when they "war whoop," use "jaw-breaker" jargon, or employ any other stereotypical mannerisms.

Depict Native American peoples, past and present, as heroes who are defending their people, rights, and lands.

Avoid manipulative phases and wording such as "massacre," "victory," and "conquest" which distort facts and history.

Teach Native American history as a regular part of American History and discuss what went wrong or right.

Avoid materials and texts, which illustrate Native American heroes as only those who helped Europeans and Euro-Americans, i.e. Thanksgiving.

Use materials and texts, which outline the continuity of Native American societies from past to present.

Use materials, which show respect and understanding of the sophistication and complexities of Native American societies. Understand and impart that the spiritual beliefs of Native American Peoples are integral to the structure of our societies and are not "superstitions" or "heathen." 

Invite a Native American guest speaker/presenter to your class or for a school assembly. Contact a local Native American organization or your library for a list of these resources. Offer an honorarium or gift to those who visit your school.

Avoid the assumption that a Native American person knows everything about all Native Americans.

Use materials, which show the value Native American Peoples place on our elders, children, and women. Avoid offensive terms such as "papoose", and "squaw." Use respectful language.

Understand that not all Native American Peoples have "Indian" surnames, but familiar European and Hispanic names as well.

Help children understand Native American Peoples have a wide variety of physical features, attributes, and value as do people of ALL cultures and races.

Most of all, teach children about Native Americans in a manner that you would like used to depict YOUR culture and racial/ethnic origin.

 © 1998; Ableza Institute 

Be Aware…

You should ask what the craft object is and what it is used for. Also, ask what tribal affiliation made the craft and does it have symbolic representation and meanings. These questions will allow you to make an informed decision. 

In the Native American culture, as in many other cultures, some of its ancient craft objects are believed to posses powers. These craft objects are generally carved animals which were crafted as fetishes. A fetish is generally a variety of animals which are carved out of wood, bone, glass with the belief that the animal fetish will bestow an attribute to its owner. Some fetishes appear to be positive, for example, deer fetish represents gentleness, and a beaver represents a builder. On the other hand some fetishes appear to be sinister. For example, a snake can represent death, and a raccoon can represent a bandit.  

Also, a fetishes may have several potential meanings some positive and some sinister and it is the craftsman that makes the fetish with a particular intent. Thus, it’s best to ask questions and not make purchases of things your religion would not approve of or that you personally feel uncomfortable with. 

Be aware so that you won’t be sorry… 

Article by CherokeeCloud

Written September 25, 2006


Civil Rights Movement and the American Indian Movement

Each of these movements knew that they were necessary for the survival of a people. The great religious leader, and social activist, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., stated, “how can a man ride your back unless it is bent”. Well both the CRM and the AIM had a vision to remove the heavy loads of mistreatment from the backs of African Americans and Native Americans and their generations to come.  

The history of both the CRM and AIM demonstrates their ability to repeatedly bring successful law suits against the federal government for the protection of the rights of African American and Native American peoples. These rights guaranteed for Native Americans by treaties, and rights of sovereignty. These rights for both Native Americans and African Americans as guaranteed in the United States Constitution, and laws.   

Each movement had a religious/spiritual, social, and civic force that moved them forward. Each movement is alive and well today in many forms and through the missions of many organizations. AIM states that, “the work goes on because the need goes on”. 

Article by CherokeeCloud


Written September 10, 2006

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How Do I Obtain A Native Name?
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Moving Back Home…
Native American Arts and Crafts
Native American Studies Programs
Native Americans And Christianity
Native Americans and Christmas
Native South American Indians
New Mexico Native Americans
Thanks without the Giving
The Meaning of Color
We Shall Remain
What Does A Native American Look Like?
What’s In A Haircut?
Without Warning