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Thursday, December 2, 2021

How to talk about Thanksgiving with kids

When I was in third grade, our school class dressed as pilgrims and Native Americans to celebrate Thanksgiving. We make feathers to stick on the headband, and cut tassels from grocery store paper bags. We smiled and sat down to eat snacks, just like they did in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621, right?

Needless to say, the history of Thanksgiving is much more complicated. The children are smart and conscious, and I am surprised by their desire for nuance and critical thinking. In the past week, I turned to three thought leaders and compiled a guide to teach kids Thanksgiving (please weigh in in the comments too!)…

First, keep questioning and open.
Everyone is excited about eating turkey and pies, but it is important not to ignore the difficult history of Thanksgiving. “Without this happy meal; it’s time to put these things on the bed,” Tracy Sorell, The author of children’s books and a registered citizen of the Cherokee nation, told me on the phone. “It doesn’t make sense to keep these false narratives. Who does this serve? Our children look at us and say, why teach me this? Why do you want students to wear vests and face-painted stereotypes that have nothing to do with actual historical events? We know who benefits: it leads to increased whiteness, and this is not what we need to achieve in 2021.”

Now, let us make things clear. What happened in 1621?
The following is a basic summary of what I understand: Many of them were fleeing religious persecution in England, and they arrived in North America in 1620. In the first winter in Massachusetts, half of them died of malnutrition, disease and cold weather. They met the Wampanoag tribe, they are experts in this land, but they are also struggling. After years of fighting the enslavement and murder of European navigators, their tribe was recently destroyed by the deadly plague brought from Europe.

Despite the opposition of many of his people, the leader of Wampanoag, Massassoyt (also known as Sahem Usamaquin), wanted to form a military alliance with the British settlers. In April 1621, he signed a peace treaty with the pilgrims. The Wampanoag taught the pilgrims how to hunt, fish, forage, and farm, which resulted in a bumper harvest.

At first the relationship between the two parties was mostly peaceful, but over time, the British continued to invade and occupy the land of Wampanoag. In 1675, a war broke out between the British colonists and the New England Native Tribal Alliance. The village was razed to the ground, Over 40% The population of the Wampanoag tribe was killed, and many Native Americans were sold as slaves. Since then, Native Americans have continued to face discrimination, deletions, violations of treaties, and the systematic expulsion of Native Americans from their lands.

So, how should we talk about Thanksgiving with children?
When teaching children history, you need to be suitable for their age. “For the youngest children, you can shift the topic of Thanksgiving to what you are grateful for as a family; three-year-olds don’t need to know the terrible details,” said founding editor Bob Peterson. Rethink school, Co-Editor Rethinking Columbus And the first fourth and fifth grade teachers of Milwaukee Public Schools. For children around the age of five or six, Peterson suggested to share some similar words, “Wampanoag people live in Massachusetts, but people from Europe come and take away their land. This is unfair.” Then, of course, older children can learn in-depth history.

We can also teach children of all ages how to question what they are learning. “From a very young age, I asked my children,’Why is this holiday called Thanksgiving? What are people thanking for? Another part of this story is usually not told?'” Sachi, mother of three children and founder of the website Ferris says Raise racially conscious children.

Can we eat Thanksgiving dinner together while acknowledging the history of violence and current inequality?
As I learned more and more, I found myself wondering if we should skip Thanksgiving. In 1970, the American Indians of New England jointly declared Thanksgiving as National Day of MourningBut other Native Americans and allies celebrate this holiday as part of a long cultural tradition of gratitude. “Cherokees are taught to be grateful every day, every season, and year round,” Sorell told me.

Focusing on gratitude and awareness at the same time may be a good way. “For me, instead of skipping Thanksgiving, it is more important to respond to it and involve children in this critical thinking process,” said Ferris wheel“Children can be detectives in the media they consume, and Thanksgiving is part of it.”

After Thanksgiving, how can we let our children learn and grow?

* I look forward to reading more children’s books with Native American characters, such as We are very grateful: Otsaliheliga Written by Traci Sorell, drawing by Frané Lessac; If you live in Plymouth Thanksgiving Written by Chris Newell, painted by Winona Nelson; Children of Native Americans Today Authors: Yvonne Wakim Dennis and Arlene Hirschfelder; and We are water protectors By Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Goade.

*We can find out the land where we live by observation Local digital“In our school, we will conduct land confirmation at the beginning of the school board meeting,” Peterson said; land confirmation can be a great Thanksgiving or a regular family tradition.

* If your child asks a question that you don’t know how to answer, you can always say that you will do some research and reply to them. (I do it this way gender with agree Also speaks. )

* Of course, history, race, and privilege are discussed throughout the year. “Talk to the kids about the unprotected people today; think of communities that have been denied privileges,” said Ferris wheel“These talks are not just an opportunity, they also require constant questions.”

idea? How are you going to celebrate Thanksgiving this year? Do you have any thoughts or ideas? If you are a Native American, how does the holiday feel for you? “When I saw the participation of young people, it gave me hope,” Sorell said. “Our children deserve better.”

Polystyrene Raise racially conscious children, with Our racial issue column.

(Photo by Sean Rock/Stokesie.)

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