You are to be commended for joining in this critically vital work of educating our future generations around the topic of American Indians in Wisconsin. As you continue this work, keep the following in mind:
- Constantly be seeking to increase your background knowledge about Wisconsin Indians, especially local tribes. This knowledge will boost not only your class time preparation, but your level of comfort, competence and confidence.
- Be aware this is an edgy topic an there will be times of discomfort and emotions may run high. Be patient with yourself and your students, and recognize that the main objective is growth at all levels.
- Always afford American Indians, past and present, and everyone a sense of dignity.
- Explore your own biases, preconceptions and prejudices about people from other cultures and ask how did they come about? Only after thoughtful reflections will you be able to fully address the historical, racial, cultural, social issues facing the American Indian population.
- Recognize the unique status of the American Indian student demographic known as "Urban Natives, whose characterizations include often being removed from and rarely able to participate in their own tribal cultural relations, traditions and ceremonies. The term "Urban Native" is used in contrast to the "Reservation Indian" who lives in close proximity to their own or a tribal population and are afforded many more opportunities to experience their own tribal culture.
- Each Native student is a member of or descendant of a specific tribe, even if not in close proximity to it, as seen in the Indian Child Welfare Act.
- Large, extended families are common among Native families, each tribe practices their own unique form of kinship.
- Avoid any stereotypical terms, images or items in the classrooms such as: "Indians and Pilgrims", Eagle Headdresses, pow-wows, chiefs, redskins, teepees and buffaloes. These are common among Plains Indians, not among Wisconsin Woodland tribes. Explore the following links to come to a fuller understanding of Native People in Wisconsin:
Debbie Reese's American Indians in Children's Literature--a blog that features reviews on books by and about American Indians, for educators, librarians, etc.