We are parents and educators committed to a just and equitable society. This blog is a forum to share ideas and resources to help us teach our children and ourselves about social equity issues.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Totem Poles at SeaTac

Parents and colleagues,
Last night at a social gathering of kindergarten mothers, we had an interesting conversation about the totem poles at the airport. One parent shared her perception that the totem poles did not make her feel that Pacific Northwest native peoples were being honored, rather that the totem poles were a token attempt and actually referenced a more generic Pacific Northwest identity, ie salmon, totem poles, seahawks iconography. We talked about the way that Native American cultures can be appropriated by the dominant white culture and lumped indiscriminately together. Also that the "tokenism" actually glosses over the history of white genocide and land appropriation of native peoples.
In light of this discussion I am including two links. The first is a book discussed in the recent NYT book review about Isaac Stevens and the Nisqually tribe, and the other is a wonderful website, http://www.oyate.org/,  for people interested in books about native cultures, and specifically their guidelines about which books to avoid.

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