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I think history teachers have a responsibility to prepare students to comment critically and participate critically in the discourse about who we are honoring, who we are celebrating, and how we are doing it. Every fall in recent memory has reignited the ongoing handwringing about the landing of Christopher Columbus in the New World, and the legacy his "discovery" left us. Native American activist groups, among others, see Columbus as a European colonizer who set in motion the genocide of an entire people.
The Los Angeles Unified School District does not.) When Montana state Sen.
Don Ryan tried to swap the state’s Columbus Day holiday in favor of a Sept.
Turning points are powerful lenses through which students need to view our past. We don’t want to expose young kids to graphic accounts of brutal treatment of Native Americans, but I think you want them to begin to question: What did this person do? Based on my experience, I think it’s vitally essential that teachers engage kids as young as sixth grade in questions that really interrogate Columbus.
Students need to grapple with these multiple perspectives in history and the not-so-pleasant aspects of our past. I want to make sure we do justice to indigenous folks.
I think there is a ton of potential in celebrating an Indigenous Peoples' Day, but what that is, what it looks like — we need to start with asking indigenous folks to define it., critique how textbooks have covered Columbus.
For instance, they lay out what specific textbooks omitted about Columbus’s involvement with the slave trade and genocide.
They also show evidence that at least 12 other groups of people entered the Americas before Columbus.
Howard Zinn’s includes horrific, detailed eyewitness accounts of how the Spanish explorers treated the Native Americans.
I think there is a ton of potential in celebrating an Indigenous Peoples' Day, but what that is, what it looks like — we need to start with asking indigenous folks to define it.
It’s the responsibility of our school system to talk about Columbus as part of our work to prepare students to be citizens.