Thursday, December 15, 2016

Followup to Teaching Indian Literature and/or Literature about Indians

My post "Teaching Indian Literature and/or Literature about Indians" drew a lot of excellent feedback. 

Retired teacher (and one of the upcoming recipients of the 2017 Governor's Humanities Awards) Dottie Susag reminde me of another great resource on literature by and about Native Americans, Roots and Branches: a Resource of Native American Literatures, Themes, Lessons, and Bibliographies, which Dottie wrote for National Council of Teachers of English, which published it in 1998. She particularly recommends the following chapters: 

  • Chapter 1:  "Themes, Rationales, and Subthemes," which compares/contrasts the way popular non-native authors deal with young-adult conflicts with a few native authors who deal with similar themes and topics;  
  • Chapter 3: Secondary Level Units, Activities, and Lessons, especially the 6-Day Unit "Bias and Stereotype in Literature about Native Americans" (72-77), and 
  • Chapter 7: Non-Native Authors and Their Stories about Native Americans (213-237)
By the way, you can bring Dottie to your class to work with students on "Critical Literacy with text by and about American Indians" for FREE through Humanities Montana's Speakers in the Schools program. I've attended workshops Dottie has given for teachers and I always walk away having learned something new.

Missoula high school teacher Betty Bennett chimed in with specific book recommendations, writing
I love Fools Crow, by James Welch.  It opens the door to a rich history of treatment of Native Tribes in Montana.  There are great units from the OPI site and I have found some great references that fill out the topic.  I find that many of my students get more involved in the books is they know it is based on real events.
(In addition to the OPI unit, written, incidentally by Dottie Susag, teachers may wish to consider to complement their study of Fools Crow with a lesson plan on the Baker Massacre, created for us by Bozeman teacher Derek Strahn.) Betty continued: 
I also really like Who Will Tell my Brother?  By Marlene Carvell.  She uses the same poetic narrative in a journal format.  It deals with school mascots which I think is a very timely topic."
(Carvell’s sons, like Evan and his brother in the book, have a white mother and their father is a member of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe. Carvell’s books are well regarded by American Indian reviewers for their authentic portrayals of Indians.)

For her part, Susan Seastrand, who teaches at the Ayers Colony School, recommends the book Two Old Women, for which Velma Wallis created a teaching unit for OPI. Susan writes: Every time I have to do something that I think is hard, or it's too cold, or I just want to complain about, I think of those two old women and what they had to endure.  I realize I have nothing to complain about." A lesson we could all to take to heart.

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