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FreeRange Kids

We thought this is an interesting movement, and good food for thought.  Check it out!

http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/

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www.understandingprejudice.org/teach/thanksgiv.htm

Thanksgiving presents a special challenge to school teachers who want to discuss the holiday without resorting to biased information about Native American history and culture. To prepare parents for an anti-bias curricular approach, educators may wish to use or adapt the letter below.

Dear Parents:

As a part of our anti-bias curriculum, we are taking a careful look at how we discuss and celebrate Thanksgiving with students. As you may know, many Native American images found on Thanksgiving cards, decorations, and school materials are very stereotypic. They are often based on a “composite” view of Native Americans rather than on accurate and diverse Native American lifestyles and traditions. As a consequence, Thanksgiving imagery serves to teach and reinforce children’s misinformation and stereotypic thinking about Native Americans, laying a foundation for later prejudice.

Moreover, the story of Thanksgiving is usually told from only one side — that of the European pilgrims who came to America. Rarely is it told from the perspective of the people who were already here. As a result, the role played by Native Americans in helping the pilgrims to survive is often downplayed or ignored. To many Native Americans today, Thanksgiving is a day of mourning because it is a reminder that in return for their help, they were repaid with theft of their land and the genocide of their people.

What, then, do we propose to do? We do not advocate the elimination of Thanksgiving from our curriculum. Instead, we strive to help children understand that Thanksgiving means different things to different people. We will explain that some families celebrate Thanksgiving and others do not, and we will explain why (in language appropriate for children). We will also discuss how Thanksgiving cards and decorations sometimes misrepresent Native Americans and lead them to feel hurt or offended.

What we teach about Thanksgiving is part of a larger effort to help students learn accurate information about Native Americans of the past and present. Our goal is to counter misleading portrayals in children’s books, television shows, and movies (e.g., Westerns), so that students do not acquire stereotypes that promote racism later in life. As part of this effort, we do not permit students to role-play cowboys and Indians (the historic enemy of Indians was not cowboys, but the U.S. government — some of the first cowboys were actually Indians). Furthermore, we want to make sure students understand that being an Indian is not a role, but part of a person’s identity.

If you are not sure what your child or children think about Native Americans, this Thanksgiving may be a good time to find out. You might ask questions such as:

 

  • “What do you know about Native Americans?”
  • “Would you like to have a Native American friend?”
  • “Where do Native Americans live today?” (most live off reservations)
  • “Can Native Americans vote in U.S. elections?” (yes, they are citizens)

For Thanksgiving, you might also consider giving a multicultural book about Native Americans or other groups. As we give thanks this season, we hope you will find ways within your family to reinforce these lessons and help instill in our children an appreciation and accurate understanding of all cultures.

Sincerely,

[Name]
[Title]

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When confronted with evidence of being a bully, your child or student may respond “I wasn’t being a bully, we were having a fight.”  When faced with this justification, here are some questions you may ask your child to elicit a discussion of what it means to be a bully.  We believe that in this situation yelling at your child or punishing them in some other manner is not helpful.  Children are inherently kind.  Help your child see what it means to be unkind. 

  1.  What were you fighting over?
  2. Was it a fair fight?  If it was a physical fight, do you out-weigh, or are you older than the other child?  If it was a verbal fight, was it fair?  Were you saying mean things just to be mean?
  3. What did you want the outcome to be?  What did you expect to happen? What actually happened instead?
  4. Looking back on it, was it really a fight, or were you being a bully?
  5. What can you do differently next time to change the outcome of the situation?
  6. If you were being a bully, how can you make amends to the child you bullied?  Can you offer an apology?  Can you sit next to them at lunch tomorrow?  Can you smile and say hi?  Can you walk with them to school?  For younger children, can you arrange a play date?  What can you do to make up for being a bully?

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If your child is being bullied, your first instinct may be to make light of it, in order to help your child or student feel better.  Do not do this.  The most important thing you can do is listen, until you have the whole story – or as much of the story as you are going to get.  After listening, you and your child can decide together on an appropriate course of action. 

Parents make common miss-steps when they say:

  • Don’t be so sensitive
  • You take things way to personally
  • Be a man
  • Be a big girl
  • Big boys don’t cry
  • Stand up for yourself
  • Hit him (or her) back
  • You’re blowing this out of proportion
  • Don’t be such a baby

As good as your intentions are, these phrases discount your child’s story, and may prevent your child from coming to you in the future.  Listen.  If your child believes he or she is being bullied, it is important.  Attempting to make light of it is not going to lighten their load, and will often have the opposite affect.

Gakina-awiiya (We Are All Related),

Chief Robert and Terri Lynn TallTree
www.thetalltrees.com

“Teach us love, compassion and honor…that we may heal the Earth, and heal each other.”   – Ojibwe prayer

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Here’s a picture of us with Terri’s Dad, Chet Blood.

We love you Dad!

Thinking of Dad reminds us of the generations that have gone before us, and how they have done so much to make this world a better place. As Native Americans we have a strong tradition of honoring our elders, as do many other ethnic groups in the United States and throughout the world. It’s so important, now more than ever, to thank our parents and grandparents for the people that we’ve become, and for the sacrifices that they have made. 

May we always walk in a way that makes our ancestors proud and happy.

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How could anyone

Shaina Noll (songwriter: Libby Roderick)

 

Gakina-awiiya (We Are All Related),

Chief Robert and Terri Lynn TallTree
www.thetalltrees.com

“Teach us love, compassion and honor…that we may heal the Earth, and heal each other.”   – Ojibwe prayer

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When we did our parent program in Lenexa, Kansas this past Sunday there was one couple that really inspired us.  There was a woman who came back in after our program.  She said moments before she and her husband got in their car, and he looked at her and said “I yell too much don’t I?”  She nodded her head, looked at him and said “I get angry too much don’t I?”  He nodded his head. It takes so much courage to self-reflect like that. What an awesome thing! We’re each of us learning and growing as we go, and when we honestly look at our limiting beliefs and patterns of behavior, we step into a bigger, better life. We let more love in.

The Hopi Indians have a proverb that says “Do not let anger poison you.”  Is it possible that sometimes our anger poisons our relationship with our children?

Here’s a picture of us with our clan matriarch, Robert’s mom, Naomi.  She is a powerful, loving presence and she has taught us much about relationships, and our relationships with our own children and grandchildren.

Gakina-awiiya (We Are All Related),

Chief Robert and Terri Lynn TallTree
www.thetalltrees.com

“Teach us love, compassion and honor…that we may heal the Earth, and heal each other.”   – Ojibwe prayer

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