Friday, November 10, 2006
Like many teachers at this time of year, I find myself asking, “How do I teach about Thanksgiving?” I want to give the students a good lesson in history, using simple English, teaching them new words, teaching about Thanksgiving, and giving them an accurate view of Native Americans/American Indians/ Native Peoples/ Cherokee, Seminole, etc.--pick your favorite expression. And yet, I find myself doing more and more research and racking my brain to decide what to do with all of the misconceptions. I’m reading article after article about the “truth” about Thanksgiving, and so I’ve had to ask myself,“What is important? What can I share? What does Thanksgiving mean to me?”
Well, I’ve come to the conclusion that I think it’s a symbol of cultures coming together to share customs, wisdom, resources and thanks. The Wampanoag Tribe of the Northeast had the knowledge of centuries of experience living in those lands, and they shared their wisdom with the new English visitors. “The Thanksgiving Feast” symbolized the victory of overcoming their differences, finding a common ground, and surviving. We remember this day frozen in time, looking through rose colored glasses, if you like. I will share with them what I know to be true about a few different Native American tribes. I will share images of American Culture as the Melting Pot/Tossed Salad of immigrants and native peoples looking for freedom. Finally I will share our customs practiced today as we celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends. My own celebration will be in this act of sharing culture and thanksgiving with my students.