November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving stereotypes hurt

Native American history needs retelling

Thanksgiving portrays stereotypes that some find offensive"For many American Indians, the holidays are bittersweet. On the one hand, it's wonderful to get together with friends and family, but all that joy is overshadowed by the assault of stereotypical images of Indians that begin to appear on TV, in newspapers, and on greeting cards around Halloween and continue throughout Thanksgiving.

"It's very painful," said Helen Rende, who is a Kahnawake Mohawk and vice president of Intertribal American Indians of New Jersey, (ITNJ), a group that is dedicated to educating the public about American Indian culture, and history. ITNJ provides programs for schools, corporations, universities and health-care organizations.
More on the pain of stereotyping:Ross added that most people don't know that each nation is a separate ethnic group with its own culture, even though there are some commonalities.

"They each have their own identities. But Thanksgiving kind of glosses over that and many of the horrific things that happened to the Native American people," she said. "Thanksgiving shows the Pilgrims and the Indians getting together. But it doesn't show what happened afterward when there was a lot of fighting with the Indians and Indians were massacred.

"The stereotypes are very painful for my friends. It discounts what the American Indians suffered within this country," she said.
Comment:  You can find Thanksgiving-related stereotypes in the Stereotype of the Month contest at Ten Little Pilgrims and Indians.

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