Two Calls for Action to Revise Existing Social Studies Curriculum
1. Co-founder of the Passanageset Project, then Grade 7 student, Michaela O’Gara-Pratt, wrote this:
“My research took an unexpected turn. During my research which began in September 2013, I also learned that Quincy is also the site of the state’s best Native American archeological find in the last century (according to Ellen Berkland, DCR Archeologist), and we urge the city to celebrate this distinction. Over 200 Indigenous people’s artifacts, dating back about 3500 years, were discovered at Caddy Park in Quincy, MA, in 1999 during the construction of a playground there. Those artifacts, interpreted perhaps as whaing artifacts, date back 3500 years, back to roughly the time of Ancient Egypt’s greatness. We study Ancient Egypt in grade 7. We propose the story of the people living here 3500 years ago be added to the Quincy Public School’s Grade 7 and/or Grade 3 social studies curriculum.”
2. In 2015, members of different Massachusetts tribes, the Institute for New England Native American Studies (INENAS), Suffolk University Law School’s Indigenous Peoples Rights Clinic, and others in academia and government collaborated on a project called Massachusetts Native Peoples and the Social Contract: A Reassessment for Our Times. The project involved a series of statewide listening sessions, and one of the sessions focused on Indian education the Commonwealth. Below is text from the INENAS blog on that project, written by Cedric Wood (http://blogs.umb.edu/inenas/):
“Over the last year, the Institute for New England Native American Studies, Suffolk University Law School’s Indigenous Peoples Rights Clinic, Native communities, and non-Native allies met in a series of listening sessions. At these events, we discussed the relationship between Native Peoples in Massachusetts and the state.”
Our conclusion, coming out of these listening sessions, was that it was a fractured relationship at best, and a non-existent one at worse. We determined there was much work to be done, and have committed to doing so.
Our third listening session and roundtable was held in UMASS/Amherst on November 5, 2015.
The focus of the session was education and was hosted by the Certificate Program in Native American and Indigenous Studies. In addition to the presentations from Jennifer Weston, Ronda Anderson and Jonathan Hill, several audience members (both native and non-native) shared their thoughts, concerns, solutions and questions. The summary below represents those curriculum comments.
History of tribes not reflected in state’s curriculum
Public schools teaching discovery of lands, manifest destiny, colonized lands, books (i.e. “theCourage of Sarah Noble”) that reference native peoples as savages, squaws and heathens.
Teaching about Indigenous Peoples as if they only exist in the past
Native peoples/history and culture treated as special programs and not included in other topics such as science
Native parents feel compelled/or asked to educate their children’s teachers on history, culture