So Azia impressed me today. I continuously underestimate what kids know and understand.
I’ve been doing all this work preparing inservice for teachers trying to figure out authentic ways to integrate Indian Education for All. Tonight I had a DVD of an old 1970s film called "Unlearning Indian Stereotypes" playing on my computer while I was kind of doing other things and Azia came and sat beside me and wanted to watch it. It has elementary kids in NYC narrating and talking about different stereotypes they’ve had to deal with. Anyway, her response and comments really made me rethink how much young kids could really be working with these ideas.
I was kind of amazed by how much information she kept offering and connecting to what was happening in the film without any prompting from me. Information about other US tribes she knew about (Inuit, Osage, Choctaw…) different lodgings beyond teepees (longhouse,hogans…), historical events like The Long Walk and the Trail of Tears. Every point the kids on the video made, she wanted to talk about or had information or questions. Of course it was basic information, but there was quite a lot of awareness and some of the things she talked about I didn’t even know anything about. I asked her where she learned it and she told me her “NAS teacher knows a lot.”
Anyway when the kids in the DVD made some point like “some people think Indians wear these clothes” (referring to the Powwow regalia) she said, “But Mom, people do still wear those!” And of course she knows people do, but when I said she and her friends don’t wear their clothes like that everyday, she laughed and thought that would be pretty silly. I said something about how some movies only show Indians wearing those kind of clothes and only drumming and dancing and they didn’t even seem like real people. She then brought up Peter Pan as an example!
I know I didn’t know any of that kind of historical or cultural information when I was six. (I still don’t even know much now!) Every once in awhile I’m really amazed. I forget my kids are becoming real people and they have all this knowledge beyond (and different than) what just the things I’ve taught them.