ERIC Number: ED394744
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1996-May
Reference Count: N/A
Teaching Young Children about Native Americans. ERIC Digest.
Noting that the terms "Native American" and "American Indian" are both legitimately used to refer to the indigenous people of North America, this digest identifies stereotypes about Native Americans that children gain from media portrayals and classroom role playing, and suggests strategies for teachers to use to counter stereotyped portrayals and to reflect cultural diversity among Native Americans. Stereotypes are perpetuated by television, movies, and children's literature when these media depict Native Americans as uncivilized savages or as romanticized heroes. Many teaching materials and children's books present a generalized image of Native American people with little regard for differences among tribes. In their classrooms, teachers can use specific positive strategies to counter these stereotypes and generalized images. Suggested strategies are to: (1) provide knowledge about contemporary Native Americans; (2) prepare units about specific tribes; (3) use books that show contemporary children of all cultures engaged in their usual daily activities; (4) obtain posters that show Native American children in contemporary contexts; (5) use dolls with different skin colors in the dramatic play area; (6) cook ethnic foods; (7) be specific about which tribes use particular items when discussing cultural artifacts; (8) critique a Thanksgiving poster depicting stereotyped pilgrim and Indian figures; and (9) at Thanksgiving, shift the focus away from reenacting the "First Thanksgiving" to items children can be thankful for in their own lives. Besides engaging in these positive practices, teachers can avoid: using over-generalized books and lesson plans; using a "tourist curriculum" that teaches predominantly through celebrations and holidays; presenting sacred activities in trivial ways; and introducing the topic of Native Americans on Columbus Day or at Thanksgiving. (BC)
Descriptors: American Indian Culture, American Indian History, American Indians, Books, Childrens Literature, Classroom Techniques, Cultural Awareness, Curriculum Development, Early Childhood Education, Learning Strategies, Preschool Curriculum, Preschool Teachers, Stereotypes, Tribes, Young Children
Publication Type: Guides - Classroom - Learner; ERIC Publications; ERIC Digests in Full Text
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Teachers; Practitioners
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education, Urbana, IL.