Native American Issues,
Including the Explorers
Teaching about Native Americans, the "Explorers," and the Colonial Period
In K-12, students learn the pantheon of “Great Explorers”: Prince Henry the Navigator, Bartolomeu Dias, Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan, etc. Soon most forget which explorer did what (except Columbus, who “discovered America”), but they do think of them as Great White Men, our forebears. Always, the question to be asked is, what did they do when they got there?
- Lies My Teacher Told Me About Christopher Columbus
- Lies My Teacher Told Me About Christopher Columbus selected as one of ten “Engaging & Informative Books About American History”
- “The Pantheon of Explorers”
- “Columbus Day”
- “How Thanksgiving Helps Keep Us Ethnocentric”
- “Scalping Columbus”
- Maya Salam at The New York Times relies on James W. Loewen and Plimoth Plantation for her major article on Thanksgiving.
Syncretism is the main way that cultures evolve. Specifically, it explains how Plains Indian cultures flourished briefly after Europeans and Africans arrived. As well, syncretism supplies a way out for today’s young American Indians who cannot see how to “be Native” and do not want to acculturate completely and “be American.”
“In anthropology and sociology, syncretism means combining elements from different cultures to make something new. A famous example would be how Christmas was celebrated in Christmas as celebrated in Europe and North America, which combines ideas from Egypt and the Near East — monotheism, the birth of an infant who will grow up to be the savior — with winter solstice observances from northern Europe — Yule log, candles, holly, and the day itself.”
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Other Resources for Teaching About Native Americans
No one would ever use all these slides in one presentation. For your convenience here they are all together. Make use of any you want, with or without citing us. The few duplications are there for reasons.
American Indians as Mascots
Loewen got the OAH (Organization of American Historians) to come out against the Washington NFL team’s use of a racial slur for its team name. See Valerie Strauss, “Organization of American Historians calls on Redskins to change name, logo,” Washington Post.