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Parents Say No Thanks to Pilgrim and Native American Dress

If you grew up in America, you probably have memories of dressing up as pilgrims and Native Americans during your classroom Thanksgiving celebration. Well this year children in Claremont, CA, won't be cutting out their construction paper bonnets and headdresses, as some parents have deemed the controversial costumes demeaning.

One parent, also a professor of Native American literature, told the LA Times:

I'm sure you can appreciate the inappropriateness of asking children to dress up like slaves (and kind slave masters), or Jews (and friendly Nazis), or members of any other racial minority group who has struggled in our nation's history.

Still others accuse the historically sensitive parents of using children as a political platform. Has a festive tradition fallen victim to political correctness, or is it time to stop this racist stereotype?

Join The Conversation
CollegeGirl CollegeGirl 8 years
When I was in elementary school, we made Indian costumes and headdresses as well as Pilgrim costumes and hats. It was a very equal project and we then got to choose which we wanted to wear. The Indian costumes always won. I think political correctness has gone too far in many instances. In trying to make everyone exactly the same, you overlook the aspects of our own individual history that make us unique.
Jessiebanana Jessiebanana 8 years
"This is a crazy idea. The father is completely ridiculous. Indian/Pilgrim relations are nothing like slave/master or Jew/Nazi relationships. To suggest otherwise, as this father does, indicates ignorance." Hmmm really so Pilgrims didn't force Native Americans off their land and onto land that couldn't sustain the growing of food or livestock. The starving of a people and giving them diseases didn't constitute an extermination or genocide. They didn't strip Native Americans of their rights by not acknowledging what was their property because they didn't own it by traditional European standards. Sure.
Jessiebanana Jessiebanana 8 years
I completely understand where this parent is coming from and I don't think it is the PC police. We don't teach children about the "loving" relationship between Jews and Nazis just because they aren't ready for the real story. Native Americans were nearly wiped out because of the colonization of America, had things gone the way the Thanksgiving story it taught then Native American tribes should be flourishing. If were Native American and teaching my children their history and then they were coming home dressed as Pilgrims and "Indians" it would be upsetting. I also agree with TS, the phrase Indian is just wrong. We are not in India, since we have figured that out and got our maps straight why do we still call them that. Oh yeah if we call them Native American then we have to actively remember they were here first. The fact that you all are so flippant and mocking of this upsets me a bit.
StolzeMama StolzeMama 8 years
I guess it is an "it's all how you perceive it" kind of thing. I think all this PC stuff is making us a very, very boring society.
StolzeMama StolzeMama 8 years
I meant survivors still living.
StolzeMama StolzeMama 8 years
We have pictures and images and existing survivors.
True-Song True-Song 8 years
>And seeing as none of you were actually there when it happened, we cannot say the feeling or sentiments of those involved. Right. So since none of us were actually present during the Holocaust, how do we know it sucked? Maybe it was awesome. How can we know?
StolzeMama StolzeMama 8 years
Valentine's day is named after a saint, which would mean religion. Therefore in the eyes of many of you from other posts, we should not celebrate it. You have got to love separation or church and state. I however have no problem with it. Nor do I have a problem with kids dressing up like cowboys and indians. The story of Thanksgiving is a positive one. And seeing as none of you were actually there when it happened, we cannot say the feeling or sentiments of those involved. *waiting for the lynch mob*
momma-tikita momma-tikita 8 years
mariposa you should go to schools and say that to all the kiddies! I'd love to see their faces.. ;)
mariposa23 mariposa23 8 years
first of all, it is offensive. there's no reason to teach kids an offensive, fake story in the first place...why tell them a lie and teach them the real story when "it's appropriate for their age" - ? why not just teach them a vague version from the get-go that actually resembles the truth, instead of something that inherently teaches intolerance and disrespect for someone's culture? also, my native friends prefer American Indian, not Native American, because they say they are not NATIVE American - America was created after the Europeans got here. lastly, if you have ancestry from Southeast Asia, but were born in the US, wouldn't it be Indian American? ah.
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 8 years
I'll be at work for a bit but I'll be leaving early...I have pies to make!
skb9850 skb9850 8 years
Geebers, another one who will be at work tomorrow. :wavey: Or rather, hanging around on Sugar looking for interesting discussions. :lol:
death-by-chocolat death-by-chocolat 8 years
Along with the PC terminology... I am restructuring a vocabulary measure in grad school which involves indexing this HUGE book that essentially is the basis for all of our kids word lists in school. This book not only has "redskin" in it as a vocabulary word, but also "negro" and the other n-word. :-( Mind you the book was published in the late 1970's, but it has never been updated and tons of educational things are based on it. I just think that's crazy! (Oh, and those words were known by over 90% of 4th graders back in the 70's!)
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
Thanks, Valancyjane! Happy Anniversary to you too! Doing anything special to celebrate???
True-Song True-Song 8 years
It's not about whether it's offensive. It's just incorrect. I wouldn't be offended if you called me Canadian. But I'm not from Canada, so it's wrong to call me that. But I'm generally in favor of a little more precision in language.
valancyjane valancyjane 8 years
Oh, I can see that. Thanks, Martini ... by the way, happy anniversary! mine is today, yippee!!
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
Roarman, that does sound like a great program! I am so happy that you have the opportunity to send her to such a great program....I am currently going through the school choosing for my son, who will enter Kindergarten next year. It is so hard to choose!
chatondeneige chatondeneige 8 years
This is a crazy idea. The father is completely ridiculous. Indian/Pilgrim relations are nothing like slave/master or Jew/Nazi relationships. To suggest otherwise, as this father does, indicates ignorance.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
Well, valancyjane, the "dot" reference isn't really all-inclusive. My husband is SE Asian and we know many SE Asian Indians who are not Hindu, and as such would not be employing the "dot". They might find that reference offensive.
Roarman Roarman 8 years
Otherwise it's a really wonderful school with a great language and arts program, which is why I suffer through these pretty insignificant things and keep her there. She's in third grade and reading at a fifth grade level and next year has the opportunity to take Russian.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
Roarman, all I can say to that just leaves me speechless. It's sad really....
valancyjane valancyjane 8 years
I never thought I'd get to ask this question but ... do some people find the "dots or feathers" distinction offensive? I've used it a few times (quoting "Good Will Hunting") and I get these blank looks; I can't tell if people are offended or if they don't get what I'm saying. I think it's clever but if it's pissing people off I won't use that phrase anymore! As for Native Americans/Indians and Thanksgiving ... I don't think I dressed up as a kid, but I went to a Catholic school so the emphasis was probably on thanking God for our blessings, not the history behind the day. I tend to think that the population who would be most maligned by a stereotype gets to decide if it's offensive; I, as a white person, don't get to say how a Native American should feel about this. There are lots of ways to teach kids about history and thankfulness ... what's wrong with coming up with another way?
Roarman Roarman 8 years
Yes, Martini, that's what I always say. They are all exclusive instead of being all inclusive as you would think a multi cultural school would be. They take it so far that in first grade my daughter brought in a Christmas book (no jesus references or anything) for her share day that she loved and her teacher told her she couldn't share it with the class. Now I happen to know that the kids in her class all celebrated Christmas as she had been with all of them the previous year.
momma-tikita momma-tikita 8 years
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 8 years
All the Native Americans I know (and I know a lot!) don't mind being called Indians at all. Jude, I know what you mean about the confusion between Indians from India and Native American Indians. I always throw out the "dots or feathers?" question when I'm not sure. Anyway, I agree with whoever said that Thanksgiving celebrates the Indians. What happened afterwards was tragic. There is no question. But it's not like we're celebrating Thanksgiving with ceremonial smallpox blankets.
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