October 02, 2011

Apache descendant teaches Plains stereotypes

Lessons in American history

By Emily PortelliSTUDENTS at a Knox primary school recently got a lesson in US history thanks to a Native American who explained traditions, which have lasted for hundreds of years.

Red Horse, a descendent of the Mescalero Apache tribe, spent a day teaching Bayswater West Primary School students about the Native American way of life.

The 51-year-old Mooroolbark man said many of the principles Native Americans lived by were still relevant, such as sustainability.

“They used to hunt buffalo and then use every single part of the buffalo, including the skin to keep warm,” he said.
Comment:  ‎So a "descendant of Mescalero Apache" teaches about buffalo hunting while wearing a bucksin Plains costume? What's wrong with this picture?

In addition to make the "How" gesture, Red Horse is wearing a headdress. That's something for chiefs to wear during important ceremonies, not for an educator to wear in a classroom.

Red Horse is reinforcing the idea that all Indians = Plains Indians, of course. His lesson would be much more educational if he didn't mention chiefs, tipis, or buffalo.

In related news, a Norwegian "Greek" teaches about Greek urns and a Spanish "Pole" teaches about Polish sausage. Those situations would be comparable to this one. Get the picture?

For more on the wrong way to teach about Indians, see Elementary Students Join "Makeshift Tribe" and Kindergarten "Indians" Celebrate Pow Wow Day. For the other side of the story, see The Right Way to Teach About Indians.

Below:  "Native American Red Horse with Bayswater West Primary School captains Archie, 12, and Celine, 11." (Carmelo Bazzano)


Anonymous said...

What is this guy? Four feet tall? You can always tell who legitimate natives are, they always state who their specific ancestors are by name whether its a chief, a medicine man or a tribal leader, but to just mention a tribe and a phony name like Red Horse, where is this guys real roots?

If you've ever been to a pow-wow, ceremony, tribal meetings or just on the street, most natives will tell you who they are decendants from.

T. Laurel Sulfate said...

Oh my.


(from the About Us page) "Native American Productions was conceived by a reoccurring spiritual vision in 2005 by Red Horses wife, Natalia Rivera. Shortly there after in 2006 Red Horse accompanied Natalia on a trip to his homeland, the United States of America for a holiday.

During the trip the visions grew stronger and were confirmed by a brief, miraculous, unplanned encounter with Chief Bear Who Walks softly from the Cherokee Nation who gave his full blessing and inspired us to continue on the path that was given.

We believe that this dream was our destiny as we could not escape the vision. The vision was of the Native American ancestors repeatedly calling us to educate Australia on this diverse culture. Upon developing this presentation over the past four years the hunger for the knowledge of the Native American Indian by the Australian people has proven this vision to be justified."

THAT says it all.

Jaine said...

Agreed that this guy clearly doesn't know what he is doing and is reinforcing stereotypes.

Rob said "In related news, a Norwegian teaches about Greek urns and a Spaniard teaches about Polish sausage. Those situations would be comparable to this one. Get the picture?"

This is a ridiculous argument. As a teacher I might teach about Greek Urns or Polish Sausage or even about Native American cultures - I certainly wouldn't dress up in stereotypical garb to do it or teach without thorough research into what knowledge is appropriate to share. It's great to bring in authentic expects when we can but not always possible or practical given the time and financal limitations of schools and teachers.

Anonymous said...

Jaine, your criticism is a little misguided. There is a difference in teaching an individual about the culture of others and actually holding yourself out as an authentic representative of that culture. I believe that was the point the author was trying to demonstrate.