Thank to Orbusmax for covering this issue.
Seattle Public Schools issued some telling, progressive suggestions to staff regarding the way they should deal with Thanksgiving. Behold, diversity-hustling at its finest (emphasis mine + added email addresses):
November 8, 2007
Dear Seattle Public Schools Staff:
We recognize the amount of work that educators and staff have to do in order to fulfill our mission to successfully educate all students. It’s never as simple as preparing and delivering a lesson. Students bring with them a host of complexities including cultural, linguistic and social economic diversity. In addition they can also bring challenges related to their social, emotional and physical well being. One of our departments’ goals is to support you by suggesting ways to assist you in removing barriers to learning by promoting respect and honoring the diversity of our students, staff and families.
With so many holidays approaching we want to again remind you that Thanksgiving can be a particularly difficult time for many of our Native students. This website http://www.oyate.org/resources/shortthanks.html offers suggestions on ways to be sensitive of diverse experiences and perspectives and still make the holiday meaningful for all students. Here you will discover ways to help you and your students think critically, and find resources where you can learn about Thanksgiving from a Native American perspective. Eleven myths are identified about Thanksgiving, take a look at #11 and begin your own deconstruction.
Myth #11: Thanksgiving is a happy time
Fact: For many Indian people, “Thanksgiving” is a time of mourning, of remembering how a gift of generosity was rewarded by theft of land and seed corn, extermination of many from disease and gun, and near total destruction of many more from forced assimilation. As currently celebrated in this country, “Thanksgiving” is a bitter reminder of 500 years of betrayal returned for friendship.
It is our goal as a District to strive towards being inclusive and aware of the needs of all our students by respecting and honoring the many cultural experiences of our students, staff and families. This does not mean that schools and staff have to avoid recognizing Thanksgiving, but rather calls upon each of us to be sensitive and mindful of every child in our classroom.
We appreciate your willingness to struggle with these complex issues by considering the impact on many of our Native students when teaching about Thanksgiving in traditional ways. If you have any questions or need assistance planning or preparing for any holiday, please feel free to contact the Department of Equity, Race and Learning Support at 252-0138.
Caprice D. Hollins, Psy.D. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Director of Equity, Race & Learning Support
Willard Bill, Jr., Program Manager (email@example.com)
Huchoosedah Office of Native American Educ
Janine Tillotson, Consulting Teacher (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Huchoosedah Office of Native American Educ.
I think anyone would agree that we should have a truthful and historically accurate curriculum taught in any school. Of course that’s not the aim here and would not fit with certain Blame America First narratives, such as this, that certain school administrations are trying to proscribe. Nope, guilt the poor little beggars into believing that they are eternally beholden to anyone non-white for the remainder of their lives. Indoctrinate them into the religion of (skin-deep) diversity where no one is allowed to travel any further in life than what has been dictated by their heritage. Remind them that they are a product of their environment, incapable of making choices for themselves, and that government institutions know best.
So, let’s start with one salient truth about Thanksgiving that even Wikipedia gets right:
The first official Thanksgiving Proclamation made in America was issued by the Continental Congress in 1777. Six national Proclamations of Thanksgiving were issued in the first thirty years after the founding of the United States of America as an independent federation of States. President George Washington issued two, President John Adams issued two, President Thomas Jefferson made none and President James Madison issued two. After 1815 there were no more Thanksgiving Proclamations until the Presidency of Lincoln, who made two during the Civil War.
President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a Federal holiday as a “prayerful day of Thanksgiving” on the last Thursday in November. Since then every U.S. President has always made an official Thanksgiving Proclamation on behalf of the nation. President Franklin D. Roosevelt set the date for Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday of November in 1939 (approved by Congress in 1941).
Yes, the first meetings of the Indians and Pilgrims have been considerably romanticized.
Indians Native Americans (#$%&@ PC-ness) in general are divided on how to commemorate this day. I appreciate the approach mentioned in this article last year…
Chuck Narcho, a member of the Maricopa and Tohono O’odham tribes who works as a substitute teacher in Los Angeles, said younger children should not be burdened with all the gory details of American history.
“If you are going to teach, you need to keep it positive,” he said. “They can learn about the truths when they grow up. Caring, sharing and giving — that is what was originally intended.”
Growing up in a family of agriculture (wholesale Christmas tree farming… I know, totally not PC… it was beautiful), November was an especially busy harvest month. Thanksgiving was truly a time in our family for thanksgiving. In school, yes, we were fed the romanticized version of events, but, strangely, were also taught of the not so bright side of the European’s forays into the New World.
However, Lincoln’s actions have always had much more significance to me. Making a Federal holiday out if it, declaring it as, “a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” was an incredible move in the midst of the Civil War.
So, please, gather with what family or friends you have; give thanks for the tremendous country you live in and the incredible bounty we have. Do not envy, covet, or be jealous of your neighbor. Give thanks, with a grateful heart.