Week 7: Indigenous Peoples Day? Columbus Day? What does the federal holiday mean?

It’s become a lesson in perspectives. Looking back I can remember learning from one perspective, a history written from the Caucasian voice. As an adult, I discovered a new voice often silenced, as a teacher, it’s important for my students to analyze and read historical narratives that show varying viewpoints.

Looking back things have changed since my elementary school years, when I can remember as a kid dressing up as explorers and “Indians.” We wore the hats from history books written by a Caucasian perspective. As a child with Native American roots I knew there was more to the story.

During my first year as a teacher, I felt like a student in a district that was heavily populated by the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe. During my first year, I was able to graciously learn from the elders and families who accepted me.

The district wide curriculum included the history of the Saginaw Chippewa tribe. The history was a key component of Michigan history. On Columbus Day, the stories of 1492 were not celebrated. It was more of a somber day acknowledging the systematic racism the tribe has dealt with.

The elders of the tribe still felt the residual impact of 1492 and generations later the life lessons from a school system that tried to “whitewash” their culture and language.

When I started teaching in Mt. Pleasant, I was quick to think of the song and what my teachers taught me. But things had changed, and I was paralyzed to think of the one view.

My perspective has changed through the eyes of the natives. I learned so much from their narrative. I was saddened by how history was rewritten. I realized then how important it is that we are the voice for all. As teachers we need to take the time to see all perspectives and points of view. It is essential that we teach all sides of history. We need to analyze history and today’s events from all perspectives.

The Teacher’s Monster’s Club has resources on the website for educators to teach both perspectives and point of views. Please log in to enjoy the lesson plans I created to help provide perspective.

I also highly recommend checking out the book “The Lies My Teacher Told Me about Christopher Columbus.”

Written by Katherine Hughes

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