Toni Tsatoke: Teaching students the reality of Indian genocide

The victims of the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee are loaded up on carts for burial. Photo from Wikipedia

Toni Tsatoke, a lecturer and member of the Kiowa Tribe, urges fellow educators to teach the truth about American Indian history:
It’s a painful part of our collective history and even after 170 or 180 years, it’s a loss and hurt that real people can still feel and relate to. I always remind my students that learning a more whole American history that includes the indigenous perspective isn’t a means to create sympathetic non-Indian people. Moreover it’s the only way to educate and result in an informed people as a whole because after all most American Indian children are public school educated with the rest of mainstream America.

Today, I could tell from the faces on all types of students, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, or gender, that for some of them it was the first time that they actually reflected and took a moment to acknowledge the human experiences that occurred during the Indian Removal Era. It’s not just a story. It happened…in our not so distant past. These topics are worthy of being taught and deserve to be acknowledged by all.

We, as educators, can’t “protect” our students from our history, nor should we gloss over complicated and difficult subject matter. I believe that students can “handle” more than we give them credit for and they want to learn the truth. Many times I’ve encountered students that are angered that some of the Native history THAT IS American History is new information to them.

Get the Story:
Toni Tsatoke: Making Genocide Real for Students (Indian Country Today 10/19)

Join the Conversation