Thursday, November 13, 2008

Will the real puritans please stand up, please stand up

So, Turkey Day is creeping up on us.

Since having children over the age of 4, I've had real issues with Thanksgiving. When the concept of celebrating Thanksgiving was my own private inner conflict, I didn't have to put my feelings into words and could be content to stuff myself with turkey and stuffing and consider the day a pre-race meal for the Black Friday marathon.

Once I had a kid in school and the feathered headbands and paper bag vests started coming home, I began struggling with my issues. The issues being so complicated and controversial (and completely contrary to what The Teachers, Gods and Goddesses of All Knowledge in my dear son's eyes, were teaching,) I swallowed my objections and figured that something like this should be tackled when the children were much more mature. Because you don't. contradict. teachers.

But hey - guess what? I am the teacher now!
And guess what else? I forgot to take the time to put my feelings into words!

Here's the thing. I have some Native American blood.
Now, I've never really identified with that part of my heritage. Not only is it a smaller piece of my ancestry, but the Swedish and Irish pieces have been kind enough to pass down recipes for comfort food and alcohol. There's no contest.
I'm an American mutt who simply doesn't know very much about the places and cultures of her ancestors. But I do know what I like to eat and drink. And I also know that my Native American blood is Iroquois, and the Iroquois weren't exactly friends of the Wampanoag themselves, so who am I to talk?

The husband's family, on the other hand, is a lot more Native American than I am. At least, they identify with that history more than I do, which is very nice. Especially the part that makes the husband all bronzed and ethnic-looking in the summer. Mm.
Plus, to the best of my knowledge, the tribes of my in-laws had no beef with the Native Americans of the Thanksgiving story.

And here comes the day when my one little, two little, three (and four) little Indians expect to celebrate a meal between corn farmers and the white people who were so grateful for their new friends. Uh huh.

Fortunately, my 10 year old is used to me. After watching an assigned video on the first Thanksgiving, he barely flinched when I casually told him it was a romanticized story about a meal between Chosen Ones and the savages where the Chosen Ones' butts were once again saved by the savages, who would be rewarded with casinos. And, fortunately, he found the concept intriguing, because he knows such a comment will be followed by required reading and discussion.

Which means I need to come up with some required reading and points of discussion. On a topic I've been happy to dance around for years. Which means I will be giving thanks for the internet this Turkey Day.

I managed to find a lesson plan with a forward by a Native American historian, who is also a public school teacher. Jackpot!

This plan includes adult level material (complete with bibliography) as well as child-friendly information that can be adapted to all levels. While H and M learn more about the Wampanoag and their wigwams, I'm looking forward to discussing the speech given on behalf of the Wampanoag on the 350th anniversary of the pilgrims' arrival with J.

Whether or not you're a homeschooler, if you're interested in exploring the history of Turkey Day with your children, or just curious yourself, the above link is very interesting. Complete with Native American prayer, history of corn, and corn husk craft project, it's not presented nearly as intense as the introduction I presented to my poor son, lol, but it does shed some light on a few of the issues most schools gloss over in their history lessons.

And now to decide between regular stuffing and sausage stuffing while scouring the leaked Black Friday ads...


Amy said...

I had to laugh, lol. I have a good amount of Native American in me, although I don't know which tribe, and the first time that Allison came home from school with the classic Indians and Pilgrims story, DH looked at her and told her that the Pilgrims eventually ran the Indians off, took all their food, and built casinos. Just a little jaded, lol.

PearlsOfSomething said...

I like him! :-)

kwr221 said...

Well, despite the politics, I love me some turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy.

Oh, and pie, too.

kwr221 said...

Good stuff in that link.


First off - I am one of your blog stalkers and I really enjoy Pearls of...Something. Especially your post on the pink back-pack. I hope they find them and really let them have it.
Thank you for this. I am a Yaqui Indian. And I am supposedly full-blooded on my mom's side and 3/4 on my dads. They are descendents from the Aztec or the Mayans, I can never remember which.
I have a difficult time with the whole Thanksgiving and Columbus Day thing.
Reading this makes me think that despite my own issues that I have about these holidays. I think I should take a little more time to learn a little bit more about my heritage so that I can share it with my children.
Happy Holiday's!

PearlsOfSomething said...

That is so sweet of you! You know, so long as the stalking remains virtual. ;)

If those backpack punks turn up by Turkey Day, I'm totally going to use it as an example of why invaders are deserving of butt-kickings, not pumpkin pie!