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Re: Culture essentials - Judy's Soapbox

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From: Maggie White (mwhiteaz_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun Jul 13 2003 - 13:07:35 PDT


Judy Decker wrote:

> A Native
> American nearly destroyed me one summer by his attack on White Culture and
> everything that WE have done wrong.....he attacked EVERYTHING about us --
> including our religion -- and of course attacked the way we teach art (there
> were two art teachers in the class)-- He even blames US for the death of his
> brother.

This man was wrong to do so. Obviously he is hurting over the death of
his brother and what he perceives--or has been taught--as his people's
persecution. But, as I always told my students, you can blame Columbus
and General Crook (who headed Fort Apache) for your problems the rest of
your life, and nothing will change. Only you can make a different life
for yourself. It's not the white teachers who are beating the women,
selling drugs and alcohol to minors, or molesting the children.

> > That's yet another reason I hate seeing lessons on "Native American
> > art." They cannot be lumped together as one generic culture!
> >
> > Maggie

> Don't tell us we are "Wrong".....Help us do it right.....Help all of us
> enjoy our successes. Teaching about cultures is hard - there is so much to
> learn.

Oh, Judy, I did not mean this as a criticism for collecting lesson plans
under the topic "Native American." What I meant, and I thought was
clear in my messages, was when someone announces something along the
lines of, "We're going to do Native American
dreamcatchers/kachinas/baskets/masks/jewelry/etc.," without bothering to
find out which tribe(s) actually produces these things--as if they all
do. It IS hard to teach about different cultures, which is why I
advocate showing artifacts from several cultures, rather than a generic
"Native American" (or African, as Tracey pointed out). It's really not
so hard to do a quick search to find out a little about the specific
cultures which produced them. And you're right, we can't expect our
students to remember the name of every culture that made masks, but we
can at least help them understand that a lot of distinct cultures have
done so.

Maggie

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