Broadening children’s perspectives
Conversations about race and ethnicity in America rarely include concern about the status and well-being of Native Americans
Conversations about race and ethnicity in America rarely include concern about the status and well-being of Native Americans. When the subject comes up, people suddenly realize how little they know about the so-called American Indians. In fact, little is known about any culture other than one’s own.
The nation’s greater concern for environmental issues should generate a renewed interest in the close relationship of the Indian cultures to the Earth. A generation ago, sociologists believed that urban youth had become too removed from rural realities. They found that youth thought that milk and corn were products of the grocery store rather than cows and farms.
As society has become even more high tech, today’s youth are likely to be more comfortable in cyberspace rather than immersed in the woods. However, adults can expand the vision of the young by providing good books about the Indian way of life. It is important to be certain that the books are sound fiction that tells a story that is historically accurate.
For example, Two Hawk Dreams, by Lawrence L. Loendorf and Nancy Medaris Stone, tells about the life of a Shoshone family living in Yellowstone National Park well before the U.S. Department of the Interior discovered its tourist potential. The book was written for children by archeologists who base their story on their research on the Shoshone Tribe.
This story should induce elementary school readers to retreat from cyberspace at least temporarily, to learn how other people relate more intimately with the earth and her varied fauna. This should help readers to develop the capacity to understand and respect another ethnic group. This is a beneficial trait in today’s multicultural world.