Monday, November 19, 2012

"The Killgrims"

Last week my 6 year old daughter came home with one of those horrible paper bag vests that her class made "to look like Native Americans". Not surprisingly, I was livid and have been working on drafting am email that I will send to not only the teacher, but also the principle and school administration. I find it tragic that, in 2012, some people still think that perpetuating such stereotypes is acceptable. I find it appalling that people who are in charge of educating children haven't evaluated their own prejudice enough to even realize that they are perpetuating racist stereotypes. Additionally, that any school administration has not spoken to their faculty about such matters is a travesty.

I planned on using this post to share my letter to the school about this matter. However, today's events have shifted my attention a bit. 

This morning I received an email from my 9 year old son's teacher. Apparently he had an assignment due today about the first Thanksgiving. Even though this assignment was given last week, I had not heard about it. Apparently it's late because he was refusing to do it since they were only given the sanitized version of the story in class. It wasn't until the teacher emailed me that I even found out about the assignment. He told me he wasn't going to write her paper telling the "oh we're friends isn't that all happy version of the story" (his words) without the ugly parts of the truth too. I told him to include that stuff, too. If the teacher has a problem, she can deal with me.

Here is the paper that he wrote:

Plymouth was founded in what used to be Paxtuxet, a Wampanoag village that had been destroyed by smallpox and the slave trade. Squanto was a Wampanoag who had survived slavery. He taught the starving Pilgrams to grow food and survive. The feast in the movie happened during one of the Algonkian festivals. This celebration of friendship didn't last long. Within a few years the two groups were killing each other in King Phillip's War.
The first celebration to be called Thanksgiving was in 1637. The governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony called for it to celebrate the murder of 700 Pequot people. After that, many more massacres occurred and thousands were sold into slavery. The chief of the Wampanoags was beheaded and his head was displayed on a pole for 24 years. After each mass killing, thanksgiving feasts were held. George Washington decided there should be only one day of thanksgiving per year instead of celebrating every massacre. Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday during the Civil War, on the same day that he sent soldiers to kill starving Sioux in Minnesota.
 When I celebrate Thanksgiving with my family, we talk about the whole story of what happened and why we shouldn't let things like that happen again. We don't celebrate killing people. For us it's about time with family. We give thanks that our tribe survived the terrible wars and massacres against us. We eat deer and wild turkey like the Wampanoags brought to the Pilgrims. Our family eats together, like the Wampanoags did, instead of the women having to wait until the men finished like the Pilgrims.

He has also taken to calling the inhabitants of Puritan Plantation "The Killgrims". (Notice I didn't let him use the term in his paper.) 

When he was done he said "I don't think she'll be expecting THIS..."


  1. You don't need me to tell you that you have a super excellent kid., but that's a super excellent kid.

    Give him high five with pounds from me.

  2. He rocks! What an excellent paper! I can't wait to find out if you hear back from the teacher! You should send his paper to the administrators.