When I was in the third grade, our school class celebrated Thanksgiving by dressing as Travelers and Native Americans. We made earplugs and cut out grocery bags. We smiled and sat down to have a snack, as he did in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621, right?
Needless to say, Thanksgiving has a very difficult history. Children are intelligent and intelligent, and I have always wondered how it affects thinking deeply and deeply. Last week, I turned to three thought leaders and put together a Thanksgiving tutorial guide (please see, too, in the comments!)…
First, be inquisitive and open-minded.
Everyone enjoys eating turkey and pie, but it is important not to overlook the difficult history of Thanksgiving. “There was no such delicious food; it’s time for us to go to bed, ”Traci Sorell, a children’s book author and registered citizen of Cherokee Nation, told me over the phone. “It is not wise to keep these stories to yourself. Who is that servant for? Our children look at us and say, why am I being taught this? Why would you want students to wear vests and face paint with things that have nothing to do with real historical events? We know who the beneficiaries are: it is making the pitch higher and it is not where we should be in 2021. “
Now, let’s straighten things out. What really happened in 1621?
Here is a brief summary: I understand: Pilgrims, many of whom were fleeing religious persecution in England, arrived in North America in 1620. During their first winter in Massachusetts, half of them died from malnutrition, disease, and climate. winter. They met the Wampanoag tribe, who specialized in the area but also suffered hardships. After years of struggle with slavery and the slaughter of Europeans, their nation had recently been devastated by the deadly plagues from Europe.
Despite widespread opposition, the leader of the Wampanoag Massasoit (also known as sachem Ousamequin) sought an alliance with the English people living in the country. He signed a peace treaty with the Pilgrims in April 1621, and the Wampanoag people trained the Pilgrims to hunt, fish, feed, and cultivate the land, which resulted in better harvests.
The relationship was peaceful at first, but in time, the British invaded Wampanoag. In 1675, war broke out between English colonists and the Native confederation of New England. Villages were set on fire, more than 40 percent of the Wampanoag tribe were killed, and many Native Americans were sold into slavery. Since then, Native Americans have continued to face discrimination, abolition, broken treaties and systematic deportation of Native Americans to their country.
So, how should we talk to children about Thanksgiving?
As you teach children history, you want to be age-appropriate. “For very young children, you can completely turn a Thanksgiving conversation into something you appreciate as a family; three-year-olds don’t need to know the details, ”says Bob Peterson, founding editor of Rethinking Schools, editor of Rethinking Columbus and former 4th and 5th grade teacher at Milwaukee Public Schools. For children aged five or six, Peterson suggests, “The Wampanoag people lived in Massachusetts, but people from Europe came to take their place, and it was not fair.” Then, of course, older children can learn a deeper history.
We can also teach children of all ages how to ask questions. “From childhood, I would ask my children, ‘Why is this holiday called Thanksgiving?’ What did people appreciate? What is the other side of the story? ‘”Says Sachi Feris, a mother of three and the founder of Raising Race Conscious Children.
Can we come together to eat Thanksgiving food while acknowledging the history of violence and modern inequality?
As I learned more, I wondered if we would just skip Thanksgiving. In 1970, the United States Indians of New England declared Thanksgiving a National Day of Function. But some Native Americans and their allies celebrate the holiday as part of a long celebration of gratitude. “Cherokees are taught to be thankful every day, every season, every year,” Sorell said.
Focusing on appreciation and awareness can be a great way. Feris says: “Instead of just jumping in and out of gratitude, the main thing for me is to give back and make the children think seriously. “Kids can be explored on the radio they eat, and Thanksgiving is part of that.”
After Thanksgiving, what can we do to help our children learn and grow?
* I look forward to reading many children’s books with Native American characters, such as We Are Grateful: The Essayheliga by Traci Sorell and by Frané Lessac; If You Lived During Plimouth Thanksgiving by Chris Newell and photographed by Winona Nelson; Children of Native America Today by Yvonne Wakim Dennis and Arlene Hirschfelder; by We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom and by Michaela Goade.
* We can find out the world we live in by looking at Native Land Digital, and children can learn about the tribes living in that area today. Peterson states: “At our school, we usually agree to have a seat at the beginning of the school meeting; national appreciation can be a great compliment, or a simple family tradition.
* If your child has a question about which you do not know exactly how to answer, you might say that you will do some research and return. (I do this and discuss sexual and legal issues.)
* And, of course, discuss history, race and opportunity, throughout the year. “Talk to children about modern-day groups of people who are not protected; think of the areas in which you are most likely to miss out, ”says Feris. “These issues are not unique, but they need to be addressed.”
Thoughts? How are you going to celebrate Thanksgiving this year? What other ideas or thoughts do you have? If you are an American citizen, how does the holiday feel to you? Sorell says: “It gives me hope when I see young people dating. “Our children need to do better.”
PS Parenting racist children, is our Race Matters section.
(Photo by Sean Locke / Stocksy.)