Wednesday, November 27, 2019

An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States for Young People - Can We Make This Required Reading In Schools?

I'm reading the adult version of Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, and I'm stunned and humbled by so many things. Top among them are:

How I didn't know so much of this history (because it wasn't taught to me in school.)

But also how I never bothered to dig into it on my own (because I just accepted the narratives I'd been raised on, that didn't say anything about genocide with the goal of stealing native lands.)

And as we're about to celebrate Thanksgiving, I find myself not just ambivalent, but upset. I don't know that I can wish anyone a 'Happy Thanksgiving' without thinking about the 2nd grade art project I crafted all about pilgrims and "indians" being friends and having a big feast together.

I'd heard about Andrew Jackson and the horrifying forced march "trail of tears" from when my daughter studied that in school, but that isn't a unique example. Genocide is the right word, and this history book is packed with examples and primary source evidence, like this quote from U.S. Army general Thomas S. Jesup, who, in 1836, wrote of the Seminoles: “The country can be rid of them only by exterminating them.”

When I finish the adult edition, I'll jump into the one crafted for teens, An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States for Young People (ReVisioning American History for Young People #2) By Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Adapted by Jean Mendoza and Debbie Reese.

In the meantime, I'll recommend that you all join me in learning about the troubling foundation of our nation's founding and expansion "from sea to shining sea." Because debunking the myths is the first step. The book really does accomplish what the publisher blurb says: "radically reframes U.S. history and explodes the silences that have haunted our national narrative."

One thing I'm grateful for this Thanksgiving is that I'm (at long last) getting educated about this.

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,

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