Thinking Twice About Your Thanksgiving Craft
November 27, 2012
Have you seen the deluge of "Indian" crafts on Pinterest and blogs for Thanksgiving?
I wonder where we've gone wrong in our country that in the year 2012 we are still calling Americans Indians Indians (meaning people from India) and making stereotypical crafts to represent a culture we tried to destroy.
Do we blame our education system?
Or can we skip the blame, pull ourselves out of the 1800s, and be better than this?
. . .
Just like Spanish-speaking Puerto Ricans aren't Mexican any more than Spaniards are Dominicans, neither are American Indians Indians. Indians live in the country of India.
Over 200 years ago, Christopher Columbus landed in Puerto Rico where he encountered the Taino tribe. He thought he was in India. He wasn't. The name Indian stuck . . . and strangely, is still in use. Despite the obvious lack of geographical accuracy.
My daughter suggested that people might be too lazy to say "American Indian" or "Native American" so they shorten it to "Indian."
What do you think?
I don't see the problem with correcting Columbus' mistake. I think we would appear to be better educated if we could only use the word Indian when referring to a person from India. Don't you?
But, it's the Thanksgiving crafts that really puzzle me. Those headdresses with feathers. You know what I'm talking about, right?
You see, we need to look at the facts. The facts say that the American Indians who celebrated the First Thanksgiving were the Wampanoags, one of over 500 American Indian tribes in North America. We know that the Wampanoags didn't wear feathered headdresses. (Nor do they celebrate Thanksgiving as a joyous occasion but that's for another day.) National Geographic Kids has more information on the history of the First Thanksgiving if you're wondering more about the Wampanoags.
So why the feathered headdresses? Is it because we think that all American Indians are like the the Plains tribes who use eagle feathers to indicate status and for special ceremonial purposes?
Help me understand.
Can't we do better than this? For accuracy sake if not for cultural sensitivity?
Melissa Taylor is a freelance writer, an award-winning educational blogger at ImaginationSoup, an award-winning teacher with a M.A. in Education, and a mom of two children, ages 6 and 9. Follow Taylor on Twitter or find her on Facebook.
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