November 10, 2006

Teaching kids about Turkey Day

Children's books about ThanksgivingJean Craighead George is another of my favorite authors. But her book, The First Thanksgiving is full of historical inaccuracies, many of which whitewash the situation. But her last sentence of the book is the killer, to me. She refers to Plymouth Rock and then says, “It is the rock on which our nation began.”

Excuse me? America did not begin until the ‘Pilgrims’ arrived? America had no cultures, societies, nothing until the ‘Pilgrims’ arrived and there was supposedly a Thanksgiving feast with the Indians? This is an obvious example of Eurocentric writing discounting any view but that of Europeans. It is highly offensive to those of us who are Indian or part Indian. It should be highly offensive to everyone since incorrect information has been passed along to all readers.
For more on the myth vs. the reality of Thanksgiving, see Ten Little Pilgrims and Indians.

10 comments:

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
There's a lovely commercial on The History Channel, where a child in Puritan costume is talking about the first Thanksgiving to an audience of school parents: "And when our crops failed, we stole food from the Indians and robbed their graves!" writerfella keeps missing it 'cause it should be preserved on tape...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

I bet many parents would be up in arms if they heard their children were learning things like that.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Precisely, because their children truly learning such things (which The History Channel is teaching with the documentary the commercial preceded) would fly in the face of what the parents have taught their children themselves. Ach du Himmel!
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

Once again, most parents don't teach their children anything about Thanksgiving or the Indians' role in it. But TV specials, school plays, and children's books do.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Then, according to you, their commercial for a documentary on The First Thanksgiving DOES NOT EXIST! If I watch the program, I may send them an e-mail that they'd better repay the sponsors for a program that never was there.
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
And here is the logical point that is ineluctable about whether the media teaches children about stereotypes or if those instead are taught by parents, schools, churches, and the cultures.
If media were the teachers, everybody's ideas would be the same no matter the race or ethnicity or geographical area, as we all see the same media at more or less at the same times and in the same ways. And such similitude most definitely is not the case!
So, just who does that leave?
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

Commercials and documentaries on the History Channel are both examples of media, so I'm not sure what your point is. You've yet to give us any examples of parents teaching children about stereotypes except (apparently) your own parents.

Most people's Native stereotypes are the same or similar, so that proves my point, not yours. If parents and communities taught stereotypes, people in the Northwest, the Southwest, the Plains, the Eastern woodlands, etc. would have substantially different stereotypes about their local Indians. Instead, almost everyone in the country associates Indians with teepees, feathers, buckskins, braves, and chiefs--the basic Native stereotypes. That's because almost everyone has watched the same media: old Western movies, The Lone Ranger, F Troop, The Go-Go Gophers, etc.

If you disagree, give us some examples of Native stereotypes that differ from one region to another. Good luck.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Oh, no, writerfella does not fall for those old scholastic debater's tricks, traps, and conceits. Here, Kiowa; take this Sherman-Williams enamel and paint yourself into that corner.
By your logic, Mel Gibson learned his stereotypical views and biases against Jews from the media, rather than from an anti-Semitic father, or from his Catholic upbringing, and most certainly not from being raised in the white-elitist Australian society.
Unfair and unbalanced argument always limits the scope of the argument, or goes about its pursuits in this fashion: "There is nothing being written in science fiction that is any good at all." "But, sir, the novel SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE by Kurt Vonnegut is excellent!" "Then, it isn't science fiction!"
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

Sure, a rabidly racist father might have taught Mel Gibson more about Jews than the media did. So? For one thing, most of us don't have rabidly racist parents. For another, Jewish stereotypes (unlike Native stereotypes) have largely disappeared from the media. Gibson's case has no applicability to the general question of how people learn about Indians.

In other words, the Gibson case doesn't affect my overall argument. You have zero evidence that Gibson learned about Indians from his parents or community rather than the media. I have lots of evidence that people in general learn about Indians from the media. My evidence will trump your lack of evidence every time.

Feel free not to fall for my "debater's tricks, traps, and conceits." In other words, feel free to let me win the debate uncontested. It's so much easier to argue when the opposition can't or won't offer a plausible counterargument. I love it when my assertions go unchallenged and I get the final say.

Again, the media is the primary source for Native stereotypes, your opinion on the matter notwithstanding.

Not a Sioux said...

Are there any other non-Natives here to weigh on on the stereotype experiences when growing up? Besides myself and Rob?