November 15, 2006

Kids say the darndest things

My girlfriend asked her 9th grade English class what they knew about Natives. Here are some of their responses.

What everyone knows:

  • They were here before Columbus.
  • Native Americans are also called Indians.

  • Many bits of ignorance:

  • Indians no longer exist.
  • Indians come from India.
  • Indians scalped people.
  • Indians engaged in "gang warfare" (i.e., tribal warfare).
  • Indians wear feathers.
  • Indian women did everything for the tribe.
  • Indians invented marijuana.
  • "Cherokee" is pronounced cher-OH-kee.
  • Pocahontas was a cartoon character, not a real person.

  • A few bits of knowledge:

  • Indians are very spiritual.
  • Indians had many gods.
  • The Maya and Aztec people built pyramids.
  • Sacagawea was a guide for Lewis and Clark.


    Anonymous said...

    Thanks for sharing the results,Rob. The fact that some students thought that "Indians no longer exist" is disappointing but hardly surprising considering the media Natives receive usually is historical in nature.

    Shows that we have lots and lots of work to do to inform our kids on the facts of Native America. Kudos to your gal for enlightening her students!

    The Local Crank said...

    I was invited to talk to my youngest's kindergarten class the other day for Native American Heritage Month. My favorite question (after I had assured them that I did not, in fact, live in a teepee): "Do Indians fight crime?"

    Yes, yes they do, I replied.

    Rob said...

    I wouldn't expect these kids to know about Indians even though Los Angeles has one of the largest urban Native populations. But some of these kids were Latinos, which makes the results a bit more surprising.

    Before anyone speculates, my girlfriend didn't ask her students where they got their ideas from. But the comment on Pocahontas's being a cartoon character definitely came from the media.

    Anonymous said...

    Thank you Is just want I want to say, I am so sick and tired of the sterotypes and racial remarks about my people. I am hoping this will clear up alot of things for those who are Ignorant about my people my culture how we live and how we belive, I thank you I like this website.-- I am from the Lakota nation, and I get all kinds of sterotypes everyday. Maybe I should share this website with the kids I go to school with, I am 16 by the way, so even thought I am young I still know, how my people suffered how they still do.* Thank you*

    Rob said...

    You're welcome, Lakota. Yes, please share this website and blog with your friends and classmates, even if they're young. They may be interested in my Stereotype of the Month contest (feel free to enter!) or my trivia questions.

    Unknown said...

    I have a few comments on this. First let me say that I am Native American and I grew up on a reservation. When we were in the
    8th grade, my teacher had us pen pal up with a group back east, we are in Montana. We got questions like are we still living in tee pee's, do we hunt our own food. As I got older and moved of the 'rez', a lady once told me at my JOB, "Your Indian, don't cha get free housing.?" 1st let me tell you that we are not all the same. I worked for my rent and the house I grew up in may have had lower rent, but "Have you ever lived in a house made of partical board?!" Now even older...working with children, kids say all kinds of retarded things...and I have to wonder who their parents are.