Creating Positive Cultural Images: Thoughts for Teaching about American Indians

By Haukoos, Gerry D.; Beauvais, Archie B. | Childhood Education, Winter 1996 | Go to article overview

Creating Positive Cultural Images: Thoughts for Teaching about American Indians


Haukoos, Gerry D., Beauvais, Archie B., Childhood Education


Most children enjoy stories and school lessons about American Indians. They often find something inspirational about the lives of Chief Joseph, Crazy Horse, Geronimo and other great American Indian leaders. Although it is important to learn about these great American leaders, it is even more important for children to construct positive images of present-day Native people to prevent racial or cultural stereotypes from becoming part of their beliefs.

American Indian people are among the many different peoples and cultures that live on the American continent. While we all are much more alike than different, it is the differences that too often compel us to erect barriers of misunderstanding. Consequently, we must learn more about each other. Educators especially require knowledge of other cultures, races and ethnicities. Otherwise, they may unknowingly spread their misunderstandings as stereotypes to students.

Two decades ago, Heinrich (1977) addressed Native and non-Native interracial issues when she published a list of "what not to teach about American Indians." Its purpose was to help elementary school teachers correct common errors. Although the Indian Nations at Risk Task Force (1994) found significant change in Native education since the mid-1970s, many of Heinrich's recommendations are as relevant today as when she first proposed them. This paper will revisit those suggestions, and then encourage teachers to rethink how they portray American Indian people. The authors hope to advance classroom teachers' understanding by providing current explanations and viewpoints from the Native community.

Restructuring the Knowledge Base

* Teach children that American Indian people prefer to be identified by their nation name.

The name "Indian" was a white man's invention and still remains largely a white image, if not a stereotype. It was first used by members of Christopher Columbus's party when, upon landing in the Americas, they erroneously believed they had landed in India. Most Europeans, however, called Indian peoples "Americans" until immigrants from Europe appropriated that name (Sando, 1972). The term "Native American" also was derived from non-Natives, originally used by the United States Government to designate all Native peoples of the continent. Today, by most accounts, it includes American Indians, Alaska Natives and all Native peoples from the United States's territories and possessions - American Samoa, Baker Island, Howland Island, Guam, Jarvis Island, Kingman Reef, Palmyra Atoll, Johnston Atoll, Midway Islands, Navassa Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Wake Island.

These appellations, however, do not distinguish Apache from Inuit or Samoans from Mohawks. As a result, federal dollars typically budgeted for American Indians and Alaska Natives have now been reallocated to all peoples who declare themselves to be Native American. This interpretation increased competition for federal dollars and, in some cases, reduced treatied funds for those peoples originally identified as Native Americans.

Most American Indian and Alaska Native groups have therefore moved away from calling themselves Native Americans, and instead use the names of their original nations (e.g., Navajo Nation, Menominee Nation, Seneca Nation). Most electronic databases and publications edited by Native scholars now use the term American Indian (e.g., Journal of American Indian Education, American Indian Quarterly, American Indian Culture and Research Journal) when referring to Native peoples as a collective group. Although use of "American Indian" may suggest a return to the old image, those who choose American Indian terminology believe it more clearly identifies Native people 'of America as uniquely indigenous to the continent.

* Teach children that American Indian people do not live in tribes.

Although the United States Government has used the term "tribe" as an official designation for identifying different populations of American Indian people, most Native people prefer to be recognized as belonging to a particular nation of people rather than a tribe. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Creating Positive Cultural Images: Thoughts for Teaching about American Indians
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.