Most Students Have No Clue What Accurate Native American History Looks Like

Historians in the News
tags: Native American history

While schools take time off to celebrate Thanksgiving -- a holiday based on the supposed friendly relations between the Pilgrims and Mashpee Wampanoag Native American tribe -- they often fail to teach students about the hundreds of years of damage Americans inflicted on Native cultures. 

Most K-12 textbooks gloss over or ignore some of the more tragic aspects of Native American history, according to research from Penn State Altoona professor Sarah Shear. Shear, who studies how state curriculum standards and textbooks explain Native American history, most recently found that textbooks do a poor job covering indigenous education policies and Native American boarding schools.

Shear looked at eight recently published K-12 textbooks to reach her conclusion. She found that the textbooks presented "Indigenous Education and the creation of boarding schools as a peaceful end to conflicts between Indigenous nations and the U.S. government." In truth, children were put in Native American boarding schools after being forcibly removed from their homes and family. These schools -- which were hotbeds for disease, abuse and neglect -- sought to rid Native children of their cultural connections.

"When the Indigenous education policies were included in textbooks -- many did not include this at all -- the narratives were still within that very carefully worded master narrative, primarily around the idea that the creation of the boarding schools was ultimately a peaceful way to end these 'Indian wars' and this was philanthropic," Shear told The Huffington Post. 

 "It is difficult, given the evidence, to see the implementation of Indigenous education policies in the United States as anything less than cultural genocide," Shear wrote in her chapter for the book Doing Race in Social Studies: Critical Perspectives.

Shear calls on classroom educators to find other resources to illuminate and teach this misrepresented part of history. ...

Read entire article at Huffington Post

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