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...