Gene travelled by van across the country to see the land of his people. Along his journey, he had the experience of meeting a southern white couple on a backcountry dirt road and an old black man in Sparta, Georgia who fought with First Nation men during the Korean War.
How do we break up the biases we have about other people?
Can travel be a way to open or confirm our ideas about other people?
Where would you like to travel? How would you keep an open mind about the people you meet along the way?
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
The Smooth Traveler: Avoiding Cross-Cultural Mistakes at Home and Abroad by Susan O’Halloran
During WWII the Navajo Code Talkers created a code that was never broken. The Navaho were forced off their reservations into boarding schools where they were told not to speak their language or practice their culture. But when WWII started, the United States military reached out to the Navajo to help them create a code using their previously forbidden language.
Why did the U.S. switch its policy toward the Navajo’s native language?
The Navajo were not allowed to speak of their role in WWII until 1968. What effect do you think it had that those fighting alongside American Indians during the War were unaware of their critical contribution?
The First and Only Memoir by One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers by Chester Nez and Judith Schiess Avila
Code Talk: A Novel About the Navajo Marine of World War Two by Joseph Bruchac
Gene tells of an afternoon he spent with Rachel, a Holocaust survivor, in Omaha, Nebraska. Rachel, an elderly woman, asks Gene, “Tell me about your people?” Gene tells her of the 1835 Indian Removal Act and how his Cherokee ancestors were forced to leave their homes and walk for 800 miles through the winter months; many died. Rachel replies, “Your people, my people – same.” Later, Gene goes to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. and while being overcome with emotion, is comforted by an African American woman
What do you think of Rachel’s statement: “My revenge: I am going to live a happy life – no one can take that from me.” What might this type of revenge give her that other types of revenge would not?
How do we learn about and stay emotionally present to all the genocide in the past and in the world today? What gives us the strength to look at the worst in humankind?
What can stop “ugly history” from repeating itself? How can we support those who have been through the worst imaginable horrors and those who are willing to speak about and learn from it?
Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation by John Ehle
Holocaust Museum in Washington by Jeshajaho Weinberg
Many Africans and First Nations People bonded together during and after slavery in the Americas and in the Caribbean for protection, acceptance, friendship and love. As a result, many African descendants in these countries also share Native American ancestries. Mama Edie learns while watching old Westerns on TV with her grandmother, Nonnie Dear, a new perception of who the “good guys” or “bad guys” were.
Why does it matter that we learn to know and to love all of who and what we are? What often happens to people who don’t?
Does it really matter what we call ourselves? If so, why?
State two potentially lifelong benefits of knowing the history of your ancestors. Can you feel or experience any of these benefits at work in your life today? If so, which one(s)?
Circular Thought: An African Native American Traditional Understanding by Nomad Winterhawk
Medicine Cards by David Carson and Jamie Sams (A non-fiction book explaining the wisdom that First Nations people have gained by the observation of animals, insects and other creatures of the North American continent.)
Tell the World! Storytelling Across Language Barriers by Margaret Read MacDonald
Susan O’Halloran attends a Chicago Memorial service in November of 2011 for children who have died through violence. Being at the Memorial sparks a high school memory for Susan of going to a youth conference in 1965 and meeting Cecil, an African American teenager, who became Sue’s friend. One evening, in 1967, Sue receives a phone call that changes everything.
Being at a Chicago Memorial service in November of 2011 for children who have died through gun violence sparks memories for Susan O’Halloran of people she has lost. At the end of the service, the congregation moves into the streets to plead for peace as everyone asks the continuing questions: Will the violent deaths of young lives end? When? And what is our part in ending violence?
What are the causes of violent deaths in America? People are always responsible for their own actions, but how does America’s legacy of segregation and discrimination play into violence?
Are you for more restrictions on guns? More policing? How would greater educational and job opportunities affect violence?
If you could be Mayor of a large U.S. city, what would you do to curb violence?
Do you believe as Sue says that “these are all our children”? Why would someone in one part of a town be concerned with what happens in another part? How are we connected to one another? How does violence affect even the more “peaceful” parts of town?
Sue remembers that she was directly touched by violence. What affect has a young person’s death had on you?
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander and Cornell West
Youth Violence: Theory, Prevention and Intervention by Kathryn Seifert, PhD
In 1804, Lewis & Clark crossed The Great Plains and dangerous Rocky Mountains to finally see the Pacific Ocean for the first time! One person who was part of this Corps of Discovery was an African American man named York. While York was not always credited with his part in the Western exploration, his contributions were a large part of Lewis and Clark’s success.
How did York’s experience of the Expedition vary from that of the other men?
How was York instrumental to the success of the Expedition?
What was Sacagawea’s impact on the success of the trip?
At age 16, in 1855, Jane’s great-grandfather sailed from Long Island, N.Y. around the Horn to San Francisco where he was stranded! He took a job with Wells Fargo as a treasure agent in the Sacramento-Shasta Mining District…the home of the Shasta Indian Nation. In 1860 he rode the first leg east for the Pony Express. He was also a member of San Francisco’s Vigilance Committee, a group of 6000 men, committed to establishing “law and order.” How do we seek understanding of both the pride and the discomfort our ancestor’s stories?
How did the varieties of available transportation and the movement of people in the mid-1800s contribute to the ‘opening of the West’? Martin Luther King said, “The arc of moral history is long, but it bends toward justice.” How does that quote fit with the opening of the West? How has social media changed the way we learn about how people are being oppressed today?
If you were to create tableaux or pictures from this story, how might you picture the Shasta Nation? the miners? the Vigilance Committee? the U.S. Army? the Pony Express? How might you depict each group’s point of view and predicament?
Because Brinck is a member of Jane’s family, when she tells this story to her grandchildren, what should she tell them? Why?
A biography of Jane’s Great Grandfather: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elbert_Adrian_Brinckerhoff
Website – About the Shasta Nation Territory: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shasta-Trinty_National_Forest and www.fs.usda.gov/stnf
Stories about our ancestors help us understand who we are. Encountering troubling revelations about her forebears and their Indian neighbors in colonial New England, Jo asks what it means to tell – and live with – her whole, complex history.
People say that in history, the winners get to tell the stories. How do we look beyond the winners’ points of view to understand the past?
What are the legacies of the early conflicts between Native Americans and Europeans?
Is the Abenaki story of the Kcinu a viable model for bridging cultures? In practical terms, how might we treat “the other” as family?
How might white Americans think about redressing past wrongs and responding to the contemporary situation of First Nations?
New England’s Generation: The Great Migration and the Formation of Society and Culture in the Seventeenth Century by Virginia DeJohn Anderson
White Devil: A True Story of War, Savagery, and Vengeance in Colonial America by Stephen Brumwell
The “Indian Experiment” in education, the government boarding schools, is unknown to many Americans, yet affects us all. Following forty years of study of these stories, Dovie knew she had to share what she’d learned that would be essential to her daughter, and all of us. She weaves history, biography, autobiography and personal reflection in this story that she never “wanted” to tell. But there are some stories that need to be told…
Had you heard about the Indian Boarding schools? Why has this part of American history been largely hidden?
What political and economic factors caused the U.S. Government to wage genocide against the First Nations?
How does witnessing and speaking about tragedies such as this help heal the spirit? What made it possible for Dovie’s Grandfather to start speaking out? How and when do you tell young people about the oppression of their group by others?
What factors in First Nation cultures supported families in surviving the unthinkable and continuing to thrive?