Each year in November, many students learn of the Thanksgiving story. They hear of Pilgrims and Indians, of the hardships, the food, and the bond established between the two peoples. A table is set for feasting and for celebrating the day of America’s discovery. Many, unfortunately, do not learn of another aspect of that time – that Native Americans see it as a time of mourning. How do schools and teachers cover the Thanksgiving story sensitively and with accuracy? Below are a few tips to get started.
- Be informed. Check out these websites that offer the Native American perspective on the holiday, as they are more than valuable resources. Extension activities, as well as true history accounts are given here:
- Invite a guest speaker to talk to students about the perspective in an age and school appropriate manner.
- Find books or other resource materials that depict actual happenings.
- Talk about why Native Americans would feel mournful at this time.
- Avoid stereotypical plays, clothing, speech, food, or behaviors.
- Share what happened in the years after the First Thanksgiving (age and school appropriate, of course).
- Create a new Thanksgiving story.
- Focus on gratitude.
- Allow students to share personal experiences...