Washington State History Lessons will Now Include Tribal History

Update: the Stranger followed up its story with another story about the 29 legislators who voted against this bill.  Some of the names may surprise you.

end of update.

In the "what took so long" category, a great story from The Stranger on the signing of legislation by Governor Inslee that mandates the teaching of tribal histories of the state's 29 recognized tribes.  The curriculum is called "Since Time Immemorial: Tribal Sovereignty Curriculum."

According to The Stranger, it goes in effect on July 24th which naturally means it needs to start by the beginning of the school year (or so you would hope).

From the article:

Washington is only the second state in the country to require teachings about this country from its indigenous people; Montana was the first. But unlike the $4.4 million the Montana legislature allocated for its tribal curriculum, Washington's law didn't set aside any funding. Whatever funding there is comes from the tribes themselves, private organizations, and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction's internal budget. Together, they've raised about $300,000.

Will you look at that?  Apparently, it ISN'T just initiatives that come with no dollars attached to them.

Now (Shana) Brown and trainers like her are tasked with using that money to spread the curriculum to the state's 295 school districts.

"It's a big fucking deal," she says, momentarily breaking her teacher-trained poise.

And why?

Then there's the Native American achievement gap. In 2011, President Obama signed an executive order declaring the "urgent need" to improve educational outcomes for American Indian and Alaska Native kids dropping out of high school at disproportionate rates. In 2012, less than half of the low-income American Indian and Alaskan Native kids enrolled in Washington public schools met the state's fourth- and seventh-grade reading, math, and writing standards, according to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. American Indian kids are consistently failing more often than their white, Asian, Asian-Pacific Islander, black, and Hispanic peers.

Add in that most students probably do want to know the good, the bad and ugly about their state.  It's likely to make them better citizens and better people.

"Middle-school kids, unlike any other brand of animal, have an intense, fierce sense of fairness," Brown says. "I haven't in my classroom experienced or witnessed the white guilt that some people have experienced. But it is more along the lines of 'I can't believe that that happened,' and 'What do we do now?'"

I don't recall being taught much from my own schooling and I grew up in Arizona where we have many tribes.  It's really a pity to lose that much history.

It's a very good piece.


Anonymous said…
"Middle-school kids, unlike any other brand of animal, have an intense, fierce sense of fairness," Brown says. "I haven't in my classroom experienced or witnessed the white guilt that some people have experienced. But it is more along the lines of 'I can't believe that that happened,' and 'What do we do now?'"

"Animal" really ?

Why should people who have done nothing wrong feel guilty for the crimes of others just because of the color of their skin. What is the purpose of the shaming, to educate or to make the students feel guilty? This type of approach has been going on since 70s in Seattle public schools. It was aligned with forced busing that started in 1973. I had to debrief my daughter many times while she was subjected to a several months long "white people are evil packet" attending a SOCIAL JUSTICE focused middle school. Unbelievable, no wonder so many flee Public schools. We noticed the class having a negative effect on the student's relationships manifesting in more friendship pooling of students base on ethnicity. Shaming approaches disguised as educational opportunities do more to keep racism flourishing then stopping it. They are in fact a form of bulling that needs to stop.

You may have missed that she said she has NOT seen kids feel guilty but wanted to understand how/why this happened. That's education, not shaming.

I would like to see the "white people are evil packet." Please let me know if I might be able to copy or scan it.

But you should read the whole article. I think it is about learning about the time/place of the state you live in (history) and how/why it evolved.

Anonymous said…
I've taught on the REZ at two locations and in another 75+% Native American public school.

Remember the absolute farce in regard to Seattle District Office's programs for Native kids a few years back.

If the goal is to improve the opportunity for Native Americans to get a quality education, then spending $300,000 on this program will hardly impact the huge problems in Indian Country. I do like the program and it may positively impact some students.

#1 The lowest tests scores are coming from rural schools on the Rez and schools like Chief Leschi, Lummi, Tahola, and White Swan many of which have more culturally relevant curriculum elements. Their test scores are low when compared with Indian kids in metropolitan areas.

#2 I would be a lot more impressed if the Governor and OSPI actually analyzed the problem and developed solutions....

#3 In looking up Lummi Schools under Ferndale SD on OSPI School Report Card, I found the following message:

Lummi Elementary School closed 10-23-2014
Lummi High School closed 10-23-2014
and yet these schools are still open and my buddy teaches at the high school and has a contract for next year.... So much for OSPI's School Report card's report on the demise of two schools.

Here are some MSP scores from Spring 2014

2013-14 MSP Results @Chief Leschi Schools (lots of culturally relevant activities)
Grade Level Reading Math
3rd Grade 45.3% 20.3%
4th Grade 38.1% 28.9%
5th Grade 58.7% 42.8%
6th Grade 41.6% 18.3%
7th Grade 35.7% 14.2%

State-wide results for all Native American & Alaska Native students =>

2013-14 MSP Results
Grade Level Reading Math
3rd Grade 49.7% 39.5%
4th Grade 46.0% 34.8%
5th Grade 52.6% 42.4%
6th Grade 49.1% 36.7%
7th Grade 43.4% 30.3%

Results for Native Americans & Alaska Natives in Seattle Schools =>

2013-14 MSP Results
Grade Level Reading Math
3rd Grade 45.4% 45.4%
4th Grade 50.0% 44.4%
5th Grade 57.1% 50.0%
6th Grade 53.3% 40.0%
7th Grade 41.9% 32.2%

Mount Adams SD @ White Swan (Yakima Nation)
2013-14 MSP Results
Grade Level Reading Math
3rd Grade 23.2% 20.0%
4th Grade 25.6% 20.5%
5th Grade 17.9% 7.6%
6th Grade 17.9% 12.8%
7th Grade SBAC SBAC

The results for rural schools in Indian Country are generally very poor ... yet our supposed education leaders have done nothing to positively effect any solutions. It is a really difficult situation with many causes. So does anyone care enough to improve this situation?

Gates Foundation participated in funding the Lummi Youth Academy for high school youth which has a residential component.

2013-14 MSP Results for Native Americans in all Ferndale Schools
Grade Level Reading Math
3rd Grade 40.0% 16.0%
4th Grade 33.3% 24.2%
5th Grade 18.1% 15.0%
6th Grade SBAC SBAC
7th Grade 46.8% 43.7%

2013-14 MSP Results for Native Americans in Marysville schools (Tulalip tribe)
Grade Level Reading Math
3rd Grade 43.8% 31.5%
4th Grade 38.3% 30.0%
5th Grade 32.5% 25.5%
6th Grade 41.1% 26.9%
7th Grade 37.2% 14.2%

2013-14 MSP Results for Native Americans in Tacoma Public Schools
Grade Level Reading Math
3rd Grade 48.5% 41.1%
4th Grade 61.9% 42.8%
5th Grade 65.3% 46.1%
6th Grade 47.3% 43.5%
7th Grade 53.5% 41.3%

So what is Tacoma doing in Reading?

Taholah SD 70+% Native and 80% poverty (free & reduced meals)

2013-14 MSP Results for all students in Taholah SD
Grade Level Reading Math
3rd Grade 33.3% 8.3%
4th Grade 66.6% 46.6%
5th Grade 35.7% 21.4%
6th Grade <5.0% <5.0%
7th Grade <5.0% <5.0%

In both reading and math of 12 sixth graders more than 95% did not meet standard.
In both reading and math of 15 seventh graders more than 95% did not meet standard.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data.

--- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
It matters little where we pass the remnant of our days. They will not be many. The Indian's night promises to be dark. Not a single star of hope hovers above his horizon. Sad-voiced winds moan in the distance. Grim fate seems to be on the Red Man's trail, and wherever he will hear the approaching footsteps of his fell destroyer and prepare stolidly to meet his doom, as does the wounded doe that hears the approaching footsteps of the hunter.

A few more moons, a few more winters, and not one of the descendants of the mighty hosts that once moved over this broad land or lived in happy homes, protected by the Great Spirit, will remain to mourn over the graves of a people once more powerful and hopeful than yours. But why should I mourn at the untimely fate of my people? Tribe follows tribe, and nation follows nation, like the waves of the sea. It is the order of nature, and regret is useless. Your time of decay may be distant, but it will surely come, for even the White Man whose God walked and talked with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We will see.

We will ponder your proposition and when we decide we will let you know. But should we accept it, I here and now make this condition that we will not be denied the privilege without molestation of visiting at any time the tombs of our ancestors, friends, and children. Every part of this soil is sacred in the estimation of my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove, has been hallowed by some sad or happy event in days long vanished. Even the rocks, which seem to be dumb and dead as the swelter in the sun along the silent shore, thrill with memories of stirring events connected with the lives of my people, and the very dust upon which you now stand responds more lovingly to their footsteps than yours, because it is rich with the blood of our ancestors, and our bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch. Our departed braves, fond mothers, glad, happy hearted maidens, and even the little children who lived here and rejoiced here for a brief season, will love these somber solitudes and at eventide they greet shadowy returning spirits. And when the last Red Man shall have perished, and the memory of my tribe shall have become a myth among the White Men, these shores will swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe, and when your children's children think themselves alone in the field, the store, the shop, upon the highway, or in the silence of the pathless woods, they will not be alone. In all the earth there is no place dedicated to solitude. At night when the streets of your cities and villages are silent and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled them and still love this beautiful land. The White Man will never be alone.

Let him be just and deal kindly with my people, for the dead are not powerless. Dead, did I say? There is no death, only a change of worlds.

Anonymous said…
Was that text you quoted above from the "white people are evil packet?"

Just Curious
Anonymous said…
No it's part of chief Sealth's speech.

A "packet" is what the school calls a class or a portion of study for a quarter. Don't get caught up on the semantics. Do I really need to prove that white bashing exist in school curriculum in SPS, really? Do you think a 12 year old needs to experience "white guilt"? to understand human cruelty?, I don't.

Again, I would really like to see that packet. sss.westbrook@gmail.com
Anonymous said…
So does anyone care enough to improve this situation?

I do, and have an idea that would extend its effectiveness to underserved, underperforming children of poverty. Feed them properly. Properly means no processed, carbohydrate-heavy foods, but natural, whole foods. Properly means restoring their original, pre-reservation diets to them.

The Pacific coastal tribes subsisted on salmon and smelt, high in Omega-3 fats, protein and Vitamin B-12. Tribes such as the Kootenai and Nez Perce had diets consisting of such foods as roots, moose, buffalo, elk, salmon, potatoes, carrots, blackberries, elderberries, pine nuts, strawberries, and sunflower seeds. That's similar to today's trendy paleo and low-carb diets.

Treaties made in the 1830s and 1840s by the US government relegated the Indians to reservations. By the 1890s they were no longer allowed to hunt for their food. Read more here. The protein-rich, low-carbohydrate foodstuffs of the traditional diet were replaced with lard, flour and sugar.

The Washington tribes are now plagued with diabetes and obesity, having become as sedentary as the stereotypical American. When the natives were leading active lifestyles, their brains used the lactase their physical energy generated. Now they, along with a large majority of US people, are on a high-carbohydrate diet, which generates glucose, but remain at risk of hyperinsulemia, diabetes and obesity.

However, "a complete reliance on glucose indicates an underachieving brain, a brain that could do so much better, a brain that could really use a coconut milk curry and some intense exercise every now and again," writes Mark Sisson. I'd wager that more venison and salmon jerky would be of more benefit than chips and candy. Berries like the ones in native traditional diets are complex carbohydrate fruits, which have the quality of slow-release sustained energy rather than the fast-acting high and crash of the simple carbohydrate diet.

So if I won Mega Millions, I would like to develop philanthropic programs in partnership with tribe elders and nutritionists that is a brain-boosting, restorative diet accessible to reservations. I believe academic performance would improve.

Lynn said…
A return to pre-reservation diets is a nice idea, but it's not the solution. There is a huge alcohol abuse problem in native communities.

From a paper titled Alcoholism, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and the Native American Woman: "In startling contrast, 75 percent of Native American men and one third of Native American women can be classified as alcoholics or alcohol abusers (Mancall 1995)."

Anonymous said…
If you want to talk about substance abuse problems combine with the paleo, gluten-free and dairy-free diets, look no further than Seattle. Geez, there are sure A LOT of booze and pot edibles, along with special dietary requests at the bbqs these days. What gives? Too much time? Too much money? Big brain syndrome? Stress? Angst? Pot's legal? Fifty shades make it all ok for people to get creative?

Anyway, it's good to round out the history book with different historical perspectives. Favorite Rev. war history read was from studying the British and Royalist views of the "rebellion". Puts a different spin, not to mention giving big picture timeline and significance with what went on in the world at the time. Same when studying the Six Nation Confederacy. It's fascinating stuff and made history that much more tangible, especially when you see similar events and circumstances continually reoccurring throughout human history. It's as if we are all playing from the same game book.

GarfieldMom said…
X, what a shame that you are so fragile and believe your daughter to be so fragile too. My kids have confronted the concepts of white privilege and how it harms the people they know and love, and have never felt shame. In fact, they are proud of what they as white people can do to better the world now that they have the tools to understand it. They have developed closer and more diverse friendships based on truer understanding of other people's perspectives. If it really did have the negative effect on relationships that you say it did, it's possible that was because you and other parents discouraged your children from grappling with the messy issues of our society and from developing empathy for others.

And yes, if you're going to claim that there is "white bashing" happening in SPS curriculum, you should provide examples of it. Otherwise it's merely your opinion.
Anonymous said…
Interesting that you don't remember spending much time learning about the tribes in Arizona, Melissa. I distinctly remember 4th grade in Phoenix as learning about the state and all the different tribes (at one time I could name them all, along with the counties) and the various sacred spots in the state. Lots of emphasis on the Anasazi & Hohokam, a field trip out to the Casa Grande ruins, and discussions about Canyon de Chelly and Montezuma Castle that had me begging my parents to take me there. Then in junior high I remember learning about (and being horrified by) the Long Walk of the Navajo (and the Yavapai, forced to leave the Verde Valley) and having an elder come in and tell us the stories she was told by her grandmother (even the obnoxious boys shut up when she started talking), and then in high school, a big focus on the Navajo-Hopi land dispute in Arizona history, and again on the Code-Talkers in US history class. I was actually surprised when I moved up to Seattle to find much less Native history and culture present in the schools and in the city.
Granted, I'm sure the tribal info has been downplayed these days in Arizona given the right-winger/English-only/white-segregation culture that now rules a good portion of the state, but back in the mid-80s to mid-90s, I feel like I got a fairly in-depth look into Native history and culture in AZ, though definitely more on the Navajo than the other tribes.

Anonymous said…
"white privilege" = white bashing

Why is there no comparable discussion of "privilege" with other segments of the population that outperform the societal average? Many other groups outperform "whites" in terms of income, education, etc.. Where is the discussion on "Asian privilege", "Jewish privilege", "Indian-American privilege", etc..

The answer is that it's only PC to bash "whites".

Disgusted by racism
Anonymous said…
You know what, Germans learn about the Holocaust and the part they played in it. They don't shy away from it. They don't expect guilt from their children. They only expect a lesson learned and never again.

White privilege exists whether you choose to see it or not. There are benefits in just being white. There is no need to feel guilt about it. You just need to recognize it and understand.

Also, many do not seem to understand what racism is: Racism = prejudice + power.

I am white and of German heritage, I do not feel guilt for white privilege nor for the Holocaust but I recognize that my ancestors played a part in both. Please take your white fragility elsewhere.

CT, well, I'm older than you (and I grew up in a small, isolated town) so maybe they got to do things differently in the big city :)

Anonymous said…
I am a second generation American with white skin. In the "old country", my grandparents were illiterate peasants growing wheat for the emperor of the Austria Hungarian empire. Shortly after he arrived in the US, my grandfather was thrown in jail on a trumped up charge because he spoke a different language and practiced a different religion than most of the locals. My grandparents learned English, worked multiple jobs and lived frugally so that their children could live better lives. My father is a disabled combat veteran of the US Army. After becoming disabled, he went to college on the GI Bill and went on to live a middle class life despite his limitations. My parents also lived frugally so that their kids could live a better life. I have benefitted greatly from my parents' and grandparents' hard work and reflect on my good fortune every single day. I live my life using them as a model, and hope to pass this on to my own kids.

My circumstances are not unique. There are many more Americans with white skin with backgrounds similar to mine than there are Americans with white skin descended from people that came over on the Mayflower that sit around and play polo all day.

I re-iterate, "white privilege" is racist white bashing. I laugh at the above post about my "white fragility" as more racist white bashing.

Disgusted by racism
Lynn said…
Germans who are learning about the Holocaust today played no part in it. Of course we need to understand our country's history but it makes no sense to teach today's children that they played a part in events that occurred before they were born.

Today's youth need to understand that many people are still suffering the repercussions of actions taken against their family members in the past. We can show children that others are not always treated fairly and encourage them to work for solutions without sending the message that it's immoral for them to not encounter prejudice.
Anonymous said…
CT, I grew up in southern Arizona and share Melissa's experience. My home was a segregated mining town. Arizona tribal history was never discussed. If you learned anything you did so on your own. By the early 1990s my son's school in Scottsdale showcased tribal history for an entire year, a huge leap from my own formal education.

n said…
Interesting thread. Doesn't guilt have a place in maintaining a sense of the damage done? Isn't that what keeps us from repeating the pattern of behavior? I used to think guilt should never be the motivator for doing the right thing. That should be an intellectual choice. But many years later, I'm think guilt has its place in helping us do what is right. As for white privilege, of course it is not white bashing but a reality. Being white in a white society gave me security and safety. To think otherwise is to ignore history. I was privileged beyond measure. Trayvon Martin and the shootings at AME Church prove that.

And Christina, I love your point of view and agree with it completely. As a teacher, I see so many kids coming to school with a wide variety of issues that concern parents and teachers and I just think - well, look at what's in their lunchboxes. One cellophane-wrapped processed food after another.
Anonymous said…
History is for the textbooks and classroom. Just Dates and events. It's the past and never will burden our children or the next generation. From some posters here, the only NA legacy worth knowing and evidently to be reminded (with links) is alcoholism on the res. Except for Pocohontas. Disney loved her. That nazi and Germany thing. Also in the past. Don't need to beat today or tomorrow's generations with it either.




UKIP anyone? La famille Le Pen? Greece's Golden Dawn counterpoint to Greece's economic crash? Not to worry, that's Europe. Except Puerto Rico, our colony, I mean commonwealth. China's growing debt burden. All of this alongside other present economic and geopolitical crisis all around the blue marble. Irrelevance to us, no? Except when they affect 401k and pension and jobs and trade bills and U.S. Debt and bond market and immigration. And that SC church shooting thing.

History is for the books. Lesson well learned huh?

Anonymous said…
I'm sorry, if you are white, you benefit from white privilege. I too am 2nd generation and even I can see this. My grandparents were discriminated against by the Irish who had arrived before the Germans in the area they settled in.

If you are white, you can:

1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.

2. I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to mistrust my kind or me.

3. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.

4. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.

5. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.

6. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.

7. When I am told about our national heritage or about "civilization," I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.

8. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.

9. If I want to, I can be pretty sure of finding a publisher for this piece on white privilege.

10. I can be pretty sure of having my voice heard in a group in which I am the only member of my race.

11. I can be casual about whether or not to listen to another person's voice in a group in which s/he is the only member of his/her race.

12. I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the staple foods which fit with my cultural traditions, into a hairdresser's shop and find someone who can cut my hair.

13. Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.

14. I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them.

15. I do not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection.

16. I can be pretty sure that my children's teachers and employers will tolerate them if they fit school and workplace norms; my chief worries about them do not concern others' attitudes toward their race.

17. I can talk with my mouth full and not have people put this down to my color.

18. I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty or the illiteracy of my race.

19. I can speak in public to a powerful male group without putting my race on trial.

20. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.

And that is just the first 20 from http://amptoons.com/blog/files/mcintosh.html

I should include 21: 21. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.

Anonymous said…
I'm fine with exploring white privilege as a topic in school. It is real. Even the story of "Disgusted by Racism" smacks of white privilege. If his/her parents and grandparents hadn't been white - the story would be very different. And probably, the outcome would be different too. If they weren't white, they'd probably never presume that America was the place for them. And, it wouldn't have been. Learning English, and industriousness are fine qualities, but if you were black then (or even now) that simply wouldn't have been enough. I loved X's curricular piece - it seems like GREAT reading for middle schoolers, or anybody. This story seems very real to me, and an authentic piece of white privilege in history. But, I have to admit, SPS sometimes takes it too far. Eg. Blaming the UN for the Rwanda Genocide (8th graders)- seems over the top. It's absurd to think "international peacekeepers, mostly from white America" are "racist" because they didn't fix generations old black on black hatred, and were unable (or unwilling) to stop the genocide. And blaming the "bad Germans" for instilling black-on-black racism in Rwanda seems pretty speculative to me too. Hutus vs Tutsis - isn't something white people did, as proclaimed by SPS.

Privileged White

Anonymous said…
It's a pity that history has to take side. I had a handful of amazing teachers who snapped us out of the classroom into the thinking world. Two of them were my history teachers. The 1st gave us solid dates, events, geography and political theory base to build on. The 2nd challenged us to put the things we learned, with all the bias and leftover legacy, and make of the hand we'd were dealt as teens of our own future. That teacher had a strict, by the book, old military (father was Citadel and WW 2 and he was West Point and Vietnam) character which gave us all the reasons to dislike the old git day one. I think what we remembered isn't a scoreboard of all the things we did wrong as a nation or things we did right. That's for the history book to argue over. But how much so many watershed points in recorded history shared commonality and parallel. Yet as humans we are bound to repeat them. He told us watch out. Watch at how we treat one another as individual, as a group, as a race, as a country, as an ally, as an enemy, as a friend, as a hero, as evil and good. Watch for things that get left out in print and on TV and what's left in them (before computer and smart phone). We'll be handled to no end by many sides. Reforms of the past will give to ways to reform of today, to be set back or forward with new reform of the future. He left us with more questions than answers. Probably in today's parlance, a little paranoid to boot.

Getting together with old friends made me realized all that learning left lasting results. In adulthood, we sought to keep up with events as they become history. Some of us were part of or witnessed history. A few made the news even. We also live with these legacies and their unexpected (though Mr. S. Would say - "did you not learn that already") consequences.

Anonymous said…
Privileged White - I can't wait to tell my father that his being shot by the Nazi's is an example of how he benefitted from "white privilege". He probably never realized that.

This thread is too funny.


Disgusted by Racism
Anonymous said…
PW, this is where history and legacy tied in. In Rwanda's case, one group was favored over another by the colonial power of that day. Rawanda wasn't Rwanda then. Subsequently, better treatment, education, gainful employment in the government set one group apart above others to become the one in charge post colonial. This set up is familiar the world over. In S. Asia, the Middle East, Sudan, Horn of Africa, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Mexico, and even Texas.

Another parent said…
HP - thank you. White privilege is yes indeed a real thing, and no it does not equal "white bashing." Ugh.
Lynn said…

Even if you feel that guilt is an appropriate method to encourage people to behave properly, you can't think we should expect people to feel guilty for something they did not do.

Unhealthy diets are correlated with poor academic results - they don't cause them. Kids who aren't provided healthy meals often have young, poor, over stressed and overworked or unemployed parents. This is the source of their problems. I'm not saying that nutrition isn't important - just that providing healthy home-prepared food isn't likely to change much.


I am not arguing with you - I agree that these facts are true. I just don't believe we should consider feeling safe and secure in our society a privilege. This should be the experience of anyone living here. The problem isn't that some people have a sense of security - it's that others don't. That's the way the issue should be presented to our children.
Anonymous said…
To many in this world, to feel and be safe and secure IS privilege simply because their lives are not. To acknowledge that reality isn't guilt, but shows a recognition of how disparate our lives are.

Anonymous said…
All I know is my white son can run around the woods in Maple Leaf with airsoft guns and a bunch of other friends shooting at each other, and I had no worries he was going to be shot for having a toy in his hands. My African American friends are worried about their sons walking home from school with books.

Also, Germany is a whole different matter. White privilege was not a thing in Nazi Germany. In Germany at that time, a European Jew (and many others like Roma) would not have white privilege but that same European Jew today in the US, would have white privilege. The two countries have different histories and what may make you privileged in one country may not in another. Another example would be Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland.

n said…
"...you can't think we should expect people to feel guilty for something they did not do."

Yes, I do. Institutional neglect, recism, genocide? I absolutely do think we all should pay attention, feel the guilt and make sure we never do it again. Jon Greenberg, the reason so many of his kids when into fields that make our society better is that he made them feel the consequences of ignorant and racist behavior. I admire that.

Also, those who forget history are deigned to repeat history. This notion that everyone starts with a clean slate means that slate will be rewritten over and over again with the repeated transgressions of the past. We must learn from the past rather than repeat it.

As for the Nazi story, apples and oranges and sensationalistic without proving anything.
Lynn said…
If you'd said we should all pay attention and ensure institutional neglect, racism and genocide do not happen again, I would agree. I do agree that we should educate our children on the consequences of ignorant and racist behavior. We should not teach them to feel guilty for the ignorant and racist behavior of other people.

I don't think anyone is suggesting we should not teach the full history of our nation, lest we be doomed to repeat the wrongs of the past.
Anonymous said…
HP, you're crazy if you let your kid run around outside with an airsoft gun. John Hay elementary went into lockdown a few years ago because some kids from a private school that wasn't in session - walked by carrying an airsoft gun. And swat team was called. Could have been really ugly. Could have been your kid. True, it probably would have been much worse if they had been black. Who knows what the police would have done.

Gee Disgusted. You sure get worked up quickly. We thank your dad for his service. Doesn't mean it wasn't a privilege. Maybe you should run for school board and stamp out that institutional racism stuff from all the instruction.

n said…
I think it's emotional memory, Lynn Without creating emotional memory around our collective offenses, they are easily forgotten. I'm not saying you're wrong, but I think society has to internalize a feeling for the wrongness of our actions and not just intellectualize them. Curious, as I'm writing this, I'm thinking how much institutional memory the South manifests in its display of the confederate flag and the actions of hate groups. Maybe you're right . . . However he did it, I think Jon Greenberg was on the right track.
n said…
I think the southern hate groups rely too much on the emotion. It takes both emotion and intellect to understand and prevent the repetition of collective misdeeds. I guess I'm walking a middle line.
Lynn said…
I think understanding the history of our country, how past attitudes and events affect people today, and what is happening in the present will allow us to internalize a feeling for the wrong done in the past. I do not believe that feeling should be guilt. I do not believe we are responsible for the offenses of others.
Anonymous said…
It might be appropriate for adults to reconcile our feelings of historical guilt, but leave innocent children out of it and for GODs sake our classrooms are no place to attempt cultural shaming of children!

These shaming attempts are not limited to U.S. history, they drag in WWII atrocities, African conflicts and current middle eastern strife. They seemed to focus on either white Americans or White European oppression of non-white people. I have not seen any focus on Latin America pre European slavery or pre European African slavery or European slavery or pre Columbus native American slavery.

Oh yes "white guilt" is all the rage and seems to sell books, magazines and news papers and possibly get you on national TV.

Reginald Denny
n said…
Reginald, I want our kids to not only know the facts but also to have empathy for past and even current misdeeds which continue to this day. And I can only speak for my own white European self. I'll let others whose ancestors contributed to the oppression of a different group(s) of people take responsibility for their legacy. I have no problem with "white guilt" at all. It keeps me vigilant to current misbehavior and I sure see a lot of it. Teaching empathy is very important. I think shaming and guilt are different. If you are indifferent to it all, that's you and not me. That you consider it a "rage" or fashionable speaks for itself. I consider it awareness and I hope I never lose the ability to see beyond myself or to feel for the oppression of others and to work for its demise.

I think the current polarization between rich and poor is already a new kind of oppression. I wonder how many people are aware of it and working for change? There are always people willing to oppress other people. It never ends.
Anonymous said…
n said...

Yes, it should be "rich guilt" and it was greed then that drove and still drives much of the oppression many experience. The powers that be benefit as long as we continue to focus and be distracted by race and not economics. Look at what many of the early industrialist did to American workers. My god they committed murder of all races for money, then went on to become well established in US politics setting policies that made them and their friends even richer and more powerful. We still haven't eluded their influence over almost every facet of our lives. We need to ALL focus on economics while Seattle is in it's boon cycle and insure we all benefit equally from it.

Reginald Denny
Anonymous said…
"We need to ALL focus on economics while Seattle is in it's boon cycle and insure we all benefit equally from it."

Why should we all benefit equally from Seattle's economic boom, when some have contributed to the boom far more than others? Maybe you should change your name from Reginald Denny to Karl Marx.

More lefty psycho babble intended to make the most productive people in society feel guilty about it.

Enjoying this conversation
n said…
Well, I sure don't disagree with that, Reginald. I think you're spot on. If we want to have a civilized society. Unfortunately, some do not. And polarizing people are those who equate social justice and a social democracy with Karl Marx for the sole purpose of igniting fear. I just laugh when people bring up Marx in every conversation about just economics.

Perhaps we've drifted away from our discussion of Native American history and classroom discussions of how to handle such academic topics. I believe "all in" when it comes to teaching kids empathy and history.

I'm done on this. You all know how I feel. Jon Greenberg lives on!
Anonymous said…
"Why should we all benefit equally from Seattle's economic boom, when some have contributed to the boom far more than others?"

Yep those pesky investment bankers with their IPOs, stock splits and other paper tiger tricks have contributed way more than the rest of us to Seattle. How soon we forget 2001 Dot Bomb or 2008 stock crash resulting in the theft of billions of 401K in funds right into the pockets of Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Jeff Bezos, Howard (I steal park property)Shultz, PBA glaser and many more underlings. Yep they sure worked for that cash. They came back richer than before, jeez I wonder how they did that? It's funny that people still don't understand the corruption in the markets the unlimited issuing of stocks for manipulation of the markets. They seem not to understand many of these companies main product is the stock and that they are free to print an unlimited amount of preferred shares for themselves and their friends. It's the best club to be in. A very exclusive white only club, except for that very pesky Oprah, but they use her as a distraction.

Reginald Denny
Anonymous said…
Good to know about the small towns, Westside and Melissa. I always lived in the larger cities in Arizona (Phoenix, Flagstaff), and I'm sure in my youth I just assumed everyone was learning what we were learning. Phoenix (and surrounding areas) used to be fairly progressive in regards to education, so I guess I should not be surprised about what I learned about Native history and culture. However, I suspect much of that is no longer taught given the emphasis on testing. (Bet most people would be surprised to know that Planned Parenthood made regular visits to our HS biology classrooms in my HS district in Phx, answered ALL questions curious high-schoolers might have, and even taught us how to thread a condom on a banana. Furthermore, it was No. Big. Deal. No protests, no hearings, no lawsuits. I'm 100% sure THAT doesn't happen anymore down there.)

Anonymous said…
I think the Bananas would be protesting, ouch!

n said…
With apologies I have more thing to say and which I thought of on the way home from the last location I posted: Zinn in Peoples History of... told the story of how blacks became a lower class to whites. Black and white servants on plantations were equal in the eyes of each and gleefully interacted in every way possible. They were equals. Landowners began to worry that there would be rebellion of sorts since combined the lowest class outnumbered the landowners significantly. So the landowners devised a scheme that illustrated Reginal's point precisely: White servants would have a limited time of servitude at the end of which they would receive some land. Blacks on the other hand would have no termination of servitude and forever survive at the pleasure of the master. Well, suddenly whites were a little bit better than blacks and it worked.

So, in the end it is all about money and greed. Same with the Native Americans who stood in the way of landgrabbers, miners and others greedy to profit from the natural resources of this new land.

Reginald, thanks for putting it into perspective. I still disagree about the latest "rage" but can't argue your basic point. And yes, we still owe our kids a proper accounting of our behavior - as if it will do any good. Also, it's been thirty years since I read Zinn's book so feel free to correct me. It was a stunning and eye-opening read.
Anonymous said…

Work has such redeeming quality as a reality check.

This post was about introducing a NA curriculum. Yet it becomes one about white guilt. Does no one see the irony? I find white guilt to be the straw man here. It's a good way to stop and deflect a conversation. This isn't about original sin. Children face and deal with racism, sexism, and all the other -isms out there. Some face it quite early. To be able to recognize it, talk about it, become more aware of it takes deliberative effort. To throw shades and shut down the curriculum because this is about imposing white guilt on something your child had no part of essentially end the mean to move society forward and reconcile its past with its present.

If discussing how Belgian colonialism left a genocidal legacy by installing a minority group in power while leaving the majority languishing and setting up an unequal society that eventually imploded into a genocide is about white guilt. Then people completely missed the lesson. Learning this isn't about white guilt. It isn't about slavery pre-colonialism. It's about what happened when people intrude into a place they really have very understanding of simply because they are mightier and they can, and by doing so changed history. I worked in S. Sudan in another conflict when this occurred. My French speaking team mates who went in afterward and saw it had very little to say. Even now. Since then, 5 million people have died in this protracted conflict which grew beyond borders and even the original reason which started it. The fighting continues today.

For me this is about history. It's also about reconciliation which isn't easy. There are many people who will detract. Really, this is about your children and how well prepared they are to deal with life's vagaries and uncertainty in a very complicated world. For me, learning history with all the good, the bad, and the ambiguity is part of that preparation.

Anonymous said…
Back to the original topic...

The existing WA State social studies standards (7th grade, WA State history) use tribal sovereignty as an example of meeting specific GLEs, yet our child's class still didn't explicitly cover it, nor did they cover many, many other GLEs. How will this new requirement be any different? SPS does not seem interested in ensuring State GLES are adequately covered.

Required GLE:

Understands how key ideals set forth in fundamental documents, including the Washington State Constitution and tribal treaties, define the goals of our state.

Various suggested examples for GLEs:

* Explains how the exchange of land for continued fishing and hunting rights in the Point No Point Treaty helps to define the treaty-making period.
* Presents a position on the causes and outcomes of the Indian Wars in Washington Territory demonstrating understanding of varying viewpoints of the conflict.
* Explains how sovereignty is defined in tribal treaties.
* Examines how the history of damming the Snake and Columbia Rivers helps us understand tension between the agricultural, environmental, and tribal communities.

As far as the off-topic discussion, I understand the reference to the "white guilt packet." From our experience, the way topics were covered did border on indoctrination. We didn't object to the topics, but did object to the method of presentation and discussion in some cases. I'd call it the Zinnification of history, where "facts" are selectively presented to support a preconceived idea, rather than laying out the facts (the good and the bad) and having a more robust discussion. The focus on "isms" tended to dominate the class, and supplant historical content, rather than supplement and support the core content that should have been covered. The discussions of race came down to "white" and "others," which is straight out of the Critical Race Theory teachings used in training SPS staff. I think middle school students are still too young to be unpacking their sacks, so to speak.

another perspective
Anonymous said…
Yeah reader. I'm unconvinced. There was minority rule over a majority long, long before any white people were in Rwanda. It was already unequal. Why not focus on that inequity? Clearly, some groups of people thought they were better than others in Rwanda, for a very long time. Was that the seed of the genocide? The blame for people's genocidal behavior belongs on those who actually commit it. "White man made them do it".... doesn't cut it, and it is incredibly disempowering. Are we to believe that only white people can fix it? But of course colonization is also an abomination.... and exacerbated those existing tendencies.

Anonymous said…
A couple of good pieces which speak with more depth. The one by Gary Younge is worth reading because he writes from the perspective of a foreign correspondent based in the U.S. for 10 years.



As to assigning blame for Rwanda. Just research the UN International Criminal Tribunal, you'll find the attempt to bring those responsible to justice wasn't about white guilt. There are parallels with what is happening in Syria and ISIS. People talk about unintended consequences as if these events are so surprising. They are not. People seem quite stuck on blame rather than examining how events in the past shape events later on. IMO, that's an important piece to understand when people talk about systemic and institutionalized racism or sexism within the US. The civil rights movement was not that long ago and the opportunity to make good on the hopes and dreams may seem forever, but if you look at the timeline, it's not that long before attempts to chisel the laws down, find loopholes, detract from the spirit of equality and MLK started. Bringing fear coincide with the use of white guilt here are part of that pushback.

What a great and spirited discussion, thank you all.

Disgusted, I find your example of WWII to be lacking because the armed forces were one of the FIRST places to desegregate in this country.

Westside, you should write to me and tell me where you grew up. I suspect it was near me (or maybe the same place?). sss.westbrook@gmail.com
Anonymous said…
My son is now almost 20 so this was 10 years ago, and he and his buddies ran around the ravine in Maple Leaf having airsoft gun wars. They weren't on the street but in the ravine. There are still neighborhood kids who have airsoft wars there.

Airsoft guns have orange tips on them to mark them as not real guns. My point was, a black man in Walmart was shot and killed while holding an airsoft gun he was contemplating purchasing. A black boy was killed at a park because he was playing with a toy gun. Yet white boys in northeast Seattle can run around in the woods and battle it out and no says 'boo'.

Anonymous said…
another perspective you nailed it.

Thank you.

I think my daughter did feel the school was piling on the guilt trip. Maybe if they stuck to Washington state native American history it would have not felt so anti-white to her. She just came home feeling terrible and at one point wanted to leave the school and that's why I said I had to debrief her. She was 12 and truly didn't need to see the horrific photos added on top of guilt by association indoctrination.

If I had to do it all over again I would have home schooled her for the social studies/World history in middle school.

n said…
One person's indoctrination is another's philosophical meanderings and so on . . . Critical thinking comes in many forms and the pathways to getting there diverse. I was thinking earlier but not wanting to post so glad you all provided some space for me. Anyway, I was thinking earlier about Socratic teaching and how impossible it is to stick to any one perspective. Once you leave words on a page that include only facts, dates, numbers - very concrete information - the discussion, the thinking, the learning can go beyond measurable places. And to judge it one way or another may be counter-productive. "Zinn-isms" - that's a new one. A thoughtful, educated, experienced point of view becomes "zinn-isms." I laugh at the reduction of such an astute thinker (Howard Zinn) to one who originates only "zinn-isms." History is more than facts and dates. Without context and argument, history has little to teach us. And thank God for the people who are willing to go to those less populated places in their thinking.

The Zinn-ism I relayed earlier suggested to me that the seeds of white superiority may have been sewn at that time. I would appreciate another perspective's evidence that the "zinn-ism" related above is incorrect. It may be. If it is, please correct me. I am always learning.
HP, my son and his friends, in high school, ordered airsoft guns for just such a game in a park. All the parents said no way - go to a designed place where you will not get mistaken for anything else. They did that a couple of times and then lost interest. I had no idea what to do with these real looking guns but I didn't want to give them to Goodwill so I put them in the trash.

I believe it is dangerous for any teen to run around in a park with one of these. That's why I said no.

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