At Innovation Academy, we have been learning to reconsider facts that we read in history books. Native Americans were not savage people. Explorers like Columbus committed serious crimes and shouldn’t just be blindly celebrated as heroes. Students made board games recently to teach each other about what is true and what is myth when it comes to explorers and Native Americans. Since I can’t exactly publish all the games to this blog entry, I hope these photos will give you a taste of what they are like:
Now that we know that there are many myths about these groups of people, what can be done? In the Dominican Republic, where Columbus first landed, many give him credit for setting up the first American city. However, today, many U.S. cities are choosing to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day instead of Columbus Day. The Reconsider Columbus campaign, put together a number of years ago, explains the movement better than I ever could:
To honor our country’s Native American legacy, students made t-shirt designs this fall, with quotes from a fictional speech describing the beautiful Native American perspective that land cannot be owned in the same way that items can be. A few years ago, I wrote about this speech, which I had been wrongly attributing to Chief Seattle, a leader of the Duwamish people in the 19 century. While today we know that this speech is fiction, we still celebrate its message:
The Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. But how can you buy or sell the sky? the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?
I uploaded the designs to RedBubble, so now you can order a few of these beautiful pieces of artwork on t-shirts, phone cases, and more. After you click on a design, you’ll be able to scroll down to see many products that you could buy with the design printed on it. Or… with parent permission, of course… upload your own design.
Click here to order a product with Steven’s design:
Click here to order a product with Monica’s design:
Click here to order a product with Braxton’s design:
Click here to order a product with Kerry’s design:
Click here to order a product with Solomon’s design:
However you celebrate, enjoy your day off, and remember that many struggles in history brought us to where we are today. Maybe it’s not right to wish people a “happy” Columbus Day or Indigenous People’s Day, but let’s use this day to be grateful for what we know.