“The sun, the darkness, the winds are all listening to what we have to say.”
As we move into a month of celebrating the First Nations of our country and the world, a few helpful hints from Oyate, the children’s literature review site, can keep us from doing more harm than good. To turn a critical eye toward any books, videos or films to which we expose our students here are a few guidelines of what to include:
- Show only media that present Indians as full human beings, not primitive or simple tribal people. Avoid media that objectifies Indian people such as “counting” or “playing Indians” (Would you have your student “count” or “play” white people?).
- Select media where the full range of Indian customs, cultures, dress, religion, language and architecture is shown.,
- Show media that has authentic, not generic design. “Indian looking” is not accurate. Use books, films and so on that have paid full attention to detail..
- Select media that shows the variety of physical attributes Indian people, like all people, display. Avoid books that simply portray Indians as white people with darker skin..
- Select age appropriate media that are honest about the genocidal policies of the U.S. government. Watch for media that subtly blames Indians for their own dwindling numbers. Show that Native nations actively resisted their invaders..
- Show Indian heroes other than those who “helped” European conquerors..
- Share media that shows present day First Nations as complex, sovereign nations who are not dependent on charity, take care of their families and are creating their own future..
For a fuller list of Dos and Don’ts go to: http://oyate.org
Or buy and read the book: “How to Tell the Difference: A Guide for Evaluating Children’s Books for Anti-Indian Bias” by Doris Seale, Beverly Slapin and Rosemary Gonzales