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Dancing in the Clouds
"Laughter is timeless. Imagination has no end. And dreams are forever."
18th-Apr-2010 10:56 pm
 "I am children's librarian. I've been a children's librarian for a very long time now. So one night I'm working the night shift and these people come in--upper middle class couple with cute little girl, around four, maybe a little younger--and they're looking for books on Indians. So I take them down to the section, show them this and that, tell them why one thing is good and another is not so good, and they finally ask me how come I knew so much about it. And I'm like, well, see, I'm this Indian. And they get all excited: "Oh, Susie, come here and meet this lady--she's a real American Indian!"

Of course, I don't remember what the little girl's name was after all this time but I'll never forget what happened next. Susie comes, dragging down the floor, looking more and more unhappy, and when she gets down to the desk, she looks at me and bursts into tears. I had been sitting there, fat, dumb and happy, doing my job, and here's this little thing scared to death of me. The parents look at her--'What's the matter?'--and of course, she couldn't say. Then they turn to me and say, 'Well, I guess we'll have to work on this' and I can't think of a single blessed thing to say.

Now you've gotta wonder where she got this. I don't think it was from the parents, they seemed like nice folks. So then you have to look around and see what pictures of us the world carries for little white kids. And think all the crazy stuff that white people do and say about Indians doesn't matter? Oh yes, it matters, and I will never forget. --Doris Seale"

"Anpao's in the third grade. I pick him up from school one day and in the usual 'how's-your-day' conversation he tells me he's having a problem with one of his assignments. His teacher is making him write a diary like his family was on the Oregon Trail. He says, 'I know we couldn't have been, plus we weren't allowed there anyway. The Oregon Constitution says only white people were allowed.' Anpao's awareness and willingness to speak up makes me very proud.

When I go to speak with his teacher, she says she doesn't see the problem. She says it had never been a problem in all the many years she had been using the curriculum. I point out that she had several (brown) children in the class who would not have been allowed on the Oregon Trail.

Her response is 'not to worry,' that she does a unit in February on the Nez Perce 'where the white people are the bad people.' I tell her she's missing the point, that all children have a right to be taught honestly, that it is their world after all and they deserve to understand it. We go round and round for awhile, she maintain her oblique defensiveness, I struggling to maintain calmness.

In the end, Anpao writes the diary; his teacher does not support him and he doesn't want to feel, ironically, excluded. I choose to allow him his security; he knows his history. He learns a lot from the experience, particularly about 'mainstream' culture and how it dysfunctions. --Jane White."

"My son came home one day and told me that they were studying California Indians and they were gonna be building models of missions. I asked him if he really had to do this and he said yes. So I said I would talk to the teacher because I didn't want the children to build the replicas because many, many Indian people had died building these missions.
I went to school the next morning and privately asked Nick's teacher to let him pass on the actual building of the mission, that I thought it was immoral, considering how many Native people died building the original ones. I thought Nick's teacher would honor what I was saying, that it would sink in how insensitive an activity like that would be. But she just told me that Nick had to build a mission or fail that part of the fourth grade.

So Nick built his mission and brought it home. And we built a fire and we talked about it again, how Indian people were enslaved and died building missions and living in missions. The we put it in the fire and burned it and I promised Nick that I would always stick up for him and challenge anyone who would keep opening up these scars. --Robin Carneen"

"My name is Raven. When I was in third grade, our class read The Courage of Sarah Noble. In this book they said Indian people were savages and murders, they chop you head off and eat you alive and that we were not really people. When the class put on the play for the whole school, the kids started taunting me, calling me 'stinky' and asking me how many people I've eaten. Nobody would play with me or even sit next to me in class. I felt so ashamed. Finally, I told my mom I didn't want to go back to school. --Raven Hoaglen"

I really wish that they had the dates of when these took place, but it's still rather disturbing... They aren't THAT old of interviews. The book was published in 2005.
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