OPINION: We Owe Natives Due Diligence In Teaching the Past


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By Amanda Averill, Sr. Contributor

I assume that most Americans are aware of the fact that our country was built on top of the land of Indigenous people, but, do we really acknowledge the truth behind the land on which we have been living?

Personally, I feel as though our country as a whole has lacked the proper recognition of our past and persistent mistakes along with the pain that has been inflicted on those who owned the land first. Yes, we learn some information about a few Native American tribes in grade school, maybe some in high school, but the majority of the brutal reality of our country’s past seems to have been brushed off and put to the side in schooling systems as a whole.

Do most Americans know that we enslaved, brutally murdered, and simply disrespected the Indigenous people? Our schools need to enlighten students on the entirety of the history and the importance of respecting those that we once did not. We also need to acknowledge our country’s faults in order to grow and progress. Possible ways this could happen are with additions to textbooks that have more than one narrative or the collaboration between educators and local Indigenous communities.

Although it may seem we are progressing in the respect aspect of our country, there are plenty of things we do not care to learn about the Indigenous people. For example, how many people know about the 38 Dakota men hanged by Abraham Lincoln the same week he signed the Emancipation Proclamation?

American politician Elizabeth Warren claimed to identify as a part of the Cherokee Nation. She attempted to prove herself by taking a DNA test.

The Cherokee Nation Secretary of State, Chuck Hoskin Jr., responded to the release of Senator Warren’s DNA test:

“Using a DNA test to lay claim to any connection to the Cherokee Nation or any tribal nation, even vaguely, is inappropriate and wrong … It makes a mockery out of DNA tests and its legitimate uses while also dishonoring legitimate tribal governments and their citizens, whose ancestors are well documented and whose heritage is proven.”

Although the discussion of this issue has since been basically discontinued by the news, it is still an example of the lack of knowledge and respect given to people who have waited much too long to receive it.

This article is written for the sole purpose of creating conversation and raising awareness for the lack of respect Indigenous people receive within the civilization that crippled their own. I encourage readers to put in the time and effort to educate themselves on the history and continued presence of the Native people.

Here are some helpful sources to get you started:

News Sources: Native News Online, The Native American Times

Podcasts: “All Our Relations”, “Thunder Bay”, “Still Here”, “The Cuts with Sterlin Harjo”, “A Tribe Called Geek”

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