Tag Archive: Native American History

Hidden Heredity

Hidden Heredity

  November is Native American History month. I am always prompted to write about my heritage during this month specifically because I don’t think that enough is widely known about this beautiful group of people, which are my family.

  My teenage daughter has never, been taught anything about Native American History in her school system; in fact the only information she has…comes from our conversations. I, of course, do not mind telling her about my heritage…as I find it to be the most significant thing about me. This week, however I posed a question to myself and did some research to try and understand why we don’t hear anyone speak in a Native American tongue. I wanted to understand what happened when Native children were placed on reservations. The information I found was startling and disturbing.

  It all started with something called “Kill the Indian and save the man”. The title alone left me in chills. How does one separate the two? What I learned brought me to tears. Native American children were placed in boarding schools, under the guise of giving them the benefit of an “American” education. Their culturally significant hair was cut, so the children wouldn’t stand out. The children were also told that if they spoke in their native language or spoke of their culture, they would be punished. And, dear readers, they were severely punished. The children that attended the boarding schools were as young as 6 years of age. The children who had difficulty remembering to not speak in their indigenous language were beaten and made to eat soap. I even read about an incident where a young boy died from choking on the soap. As a result of this conditioning the children and later adults became afraid to speak or participate in their own culture. The way they dressed was changed, as it was part of the Americanization process which was started by George Washington.

  These indigenous people were forbidden from participating in their traditional dances and feasts, polygamy, funeral practices and the “medicine men” were prohibited in the ways of their culture. The people of the United States also felt that it was the responsibility to convert the indigenous culture to Christianity and suppress the native religions and practices that had been a part of their culture. This practice was referred to as “making apples”; where the man would be red on the outside, yet cultured to be white on the inside. In fact, if a Native American was found guilty of practicing “heathen rituals” it was punishable by serving up to 30 years in prison, until the law changed in 1978.

  I found these facts to be very unsettling. I was upset by this because these practices are just another way for man to try and control another group of [people…using fear.

  Please understand that we were not placed on this earth to manipulate or control anyone else. It is our nature to be loving…we were created to do so. It is never okay to degrade or tear another person or group of people down. One culture, religion or race is not better than the other. We are one group of beings…always created to be ONE with our Creator. It does not matter by what name we refer to Him. We are supposed to find peace and give it others. We are supposed to love ALL people, not just those who we understand or those who have an understanding of us. It is our job to promote the love of God, who is the Creator of all things. We have no right to restrict, ban, isolate, or segregate people from their way of life. It is not fair nor is it GODLY of us to say that a group of people must adhere to our culture…or else.

  I am of Indigenous descent…I am proud of my culture. Unfortunately, this blog is necessary. It is necessary because if we do not change our way of thinking…we will continue to hold back entire groups of people. We are brothers and sisters under God’s Heaven…we should start behaving as such.

School Is Out

   I have been searching for inspiration so I could write about our public school systems, as when I am inspired, you can always see the message the writing is trying to bring to you. You can not imagine how blessed I felt when this subject matter came up in the post a day suggestion link…I have been smiling all day. Well…I hope you enjoy…lol. I think the very first time I had really opened my eyes to the public school system was a few years back during November, which was Native American History month. Since I was raised and speak often about my culture to my daughter…she began to wonder why the school would post signs all over the place saying it was Native American History month…yet none of her teachers ever talked about it. She came home one day looking rather, puzzled and frustrated. I asked her what was wrong and we began discussing the problem she had incurred while asking when they were going to learn about the Native American History. Her eyes swelled up with tears as she went on to tell me that her HISTORY teacher expressed to her that Native Americans have not contributed enough to our society to actually warrant having an hour set aside to discuss them. I comforted her the very best that I could, trying to explain that sometimes people are oblivious to how their responses could affect others, and I told her I would go to the school and talk to their principal. I did as I told her I would, and asked the principal why it was that Native Americans could have a month dedicated to them by the federal government yet they had no place in the class room…at least not in my daughters class. I was told that it wasn’t that they had not contributed anything to society; but that November was really more about Thanksgiving and Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the New World. I expressed my disappointment in the school even suggesting that people from my culture contributed nothing to the way we live now and even then. I had always found it offensive to know that our public schools would only take one month out of the year and dedicate it to Black History (February)…as if so few contributions were made by African Americans that it didn’t warrant more attention. It was true that in her school in particular, there were times when 2 African Americans were spoken of, other than during February…those would be Harriet Tubman and George Washington Carver (we live in a huge peanut state). But it troubled me more to know that even when studying the Black History in February, they would only cover the basics…Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver, Carl Lewis, Rosa Parks and Rev. Jesse Jackson. There were pictures of Malcolm X, but no discussions because #1 he was too controversial and #2 he was not Christian. It was at this point when my head would begin to swell and the headaches came flooding in. I had to sit my daughter down and ask her…do you know who Medgar Evers is. She shook her head, I explained that he was monumental in the civil rights movement; in trying to put an end to segregation…all I got was a blank stare. Then I asked her, do you know what Martin Luther King Jr did that made him famous? She said plainly, he made the I have a dream speech, and then he was killed. She had no idea what was happening in our country at that time, she had no understanding as to how truly awful black people were treated, for just trying to do what everyone else was doing…living. All of this was oblivious to her; she had never heard anyone say anything about public lynching’s, about separate water fountains and bathrooms. She didn’t realize that black people could not go to the movies with white people, that they were treated as second class citizens. All of this disturbed her greatly; especially given the fact that her father is black…she was offended. We all should be offended, especially if we have schools that ignore the parts of history that are controversial. I had to explain to her that this is why there are so many problems today, a lot of people are still angry…because there never seems to be any balancement. I expressed to her, like many other things involving other groups of people, there is no way to make up for some injustices in our society. There are something’s that throwing a bandage on will not cure…but rather, it leaves a huge scar to remind us that we were wronged. I want to talk about James Reese Europe with you right now…but believe me that is another blog completely…lol…I digress. I realized at that point, if she was going to continue to stay in public schools that I would have to become extremely involved in what she was being taught. And once I learned that the school really didn’t want my two cents worth, I would just teach her, from home. I would teach her all of the things that the school system left gaps in. I know I should have been more involved to begin with, but I was just thankful that by the time she was in the 6th or 7th grade…I was paying close enough attention to what she wasn’t being taught to help cushion what she needed to know. Then on April 16, 2007…the most gruesome thing happened. Cho Seung Hui, a 23 year old Virginia Tech Senior; went on a shooting rampage and he killed 32 students before turning a gun on himself. This was the worst massacre in United States history, and it happened in Virginia…where we live. Myself, personally, I was physically and emotionally spent on that day. We kept getting updates throughout the day as more murders and injuries had been reported. I was worried about the state my daughter would be in, as she came in from school. At that time she was 13, she had never experienced such brutality in any event. So, she comes in, and is laughing and talking away. I was a little confused thinking she took this very well. I decided that perhaps this was her defense mechanism taking over. I gave her very basic information about it and left it at that; thinking that they would speak to the students about it the next day and offer counseling, as there had to be students disturbed by this act. After all, this event happened at a school, where children were supposed to feel safe and secure. After school the next day, she came home the same as the day previous. I asked her if they talked to the students today about the shootings at Virginia Tech. She said, very simply…..no. I became very frustrated by this, and went to the school and asked why they would not discuss something that happened so close to where we were, geographically…not to mention that it happened at a school. I was bluntly told, it wasn’t in their curriculum, and to take time out for this discussion…would set them back a day. I was livid. Not only did they not mention it, they didn’t think about the 3 children going to that school, whose sisters and brother went to Virginia Tech. So in short, the school system did not feel that the worst massacre to happen in a school in our country, EVER, was worth a discussion. So back to our original topic, what do I think about our public school system? I think it lacks adaptability, it lacks information, and it fails to give our teachers stretching room where they can determine where the students need to1 be, as opposed to where they are. I feel that the school board is so concerned with funding and accreditation that they have lost the reason the schools are even open. We only need to look at what happened to the schools in Atlanta, Georgia to know that…the only difference in those schools (where teachers falsified tests, because there jobs were threatened)…and other schools across the country is that Atlanta got caught. Atlanta school district got caught being greedy, and as an end result the public school students became expendable. School stopped being about what the child was getting out of the school and became; what can the school get out of the child. This is such a sad state of affairs, but it is reality. What do I think the answer should be? Pay teachers more; the really great ones can be priceless to our children. School boards need to look for teachers that look outside of the box, a teacher who encourages free thinking with intelligent reasoning. We need smaller classrooms, children learn better in a more intimate setting. Right now we are stacking the odds against our children…they are innocent and deserve better. Lastly, if you can spare the time, I suggest homeschooling. Children need to know what is going on in our world and often this is found in the experience of life and not in a text book. How can I learn about current events in a text book written 5 years ago? As the public at large we need to step in and participate in our educational system, we can not trust that our kids are getting the best education possible…unless we participate. Education today isn’t what my education was, but we can’t just throw our hands up in defeat…we must make strides towards a solution. Our children will be the soundest investment that we ever make. They don’t raise themselves and we can’t let them educate themselves. We must become steadfast and consistent in their lives, showing them that what they are doing is important to us. It may be as simple as going to your child’s classroom randomly…showing our children that we care and showing our schools that we are holding them accountable. Just my take…

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