Teachers Strive to Ensure Students ‘Unlearn’ Thanksgiving ‘Myth’

First-grader Kyleanne Kopping, 6, holds up a Thanksgiving picture she made on a computer at the April Lane Elementry School in Yuba City, Calif., Tuesday, Nov. 16, 1999. April Lane is starting an ambitious state program aimed at boosting student performance by the year 2002.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

Teachers across America are striving to have their students “unlearn” what progressive activists say is nothing more than a “feel-good” Thanksgiving “myth.”

“Thanksgiving became a national holiday during the administration of President Abraham Lincoln, and the myth of familial relations between colonial settlers and Native Americans has persisted in American culture ever since,” says Education Week:

The education media outlet interviewed Jacob Tsotigh, tribal education specialist for the National Indian Education Association, who said, “There’s less and less” of K-12 teachers having students participate in the narrative of the early American settlers sharing a meal with Native Americans.

Tsotigh said more Americans are being “made aware of that version being a myth, and our realization that there is a really different perspective that needs to be considered.”

He added that more public school teachers are reaching out to tribal communities to “connect to authentic teaching sources.”

Education Week continued:

To help students appreciate colonial oppression of Natives and the violence that ensued from it, Tsotigh recommends reframing the holiday as an opportunity to honor representatives of Native communities who greeted European visitors with open arms.

“They didn’t perceive them as invaders at the time because their numbers were so small,” Tsotigh said. “They felt from the mindset of Native people that we share with those less fortunate. That was part of how that myth evolved.”

For “related video,” Education Week linked to a 2018 PBS NewsHour report titled “Teaching the Real Lessons of Thanksgiving.”

“Thanksgiving is often seen as a quintessential feel-good holiday, but many argue the way it’s taught in schools perpetuates myths as well as being disrespectful to Native Americans,” PBS host Judy Woodruff states, adding these individuals claim the traditional Thanksgiving story “leaves out the context of relations between them and the early immigrants, how the settlers brought diseases, for example, that decimated native tribes or information about the massacres of natives that followed.”

In keeping with the “unlearning” process, Education Week offers its project titled Citizen Z: Teaching Civics in a Divided Nation, which, it says, “has been exploring the evolving cultural understanding of Thanksgiving through the lens of the K-12 classroom.”

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