I have always enjoyed history. My dad is a history teacher and has been almost as long as I’ve been alive. I thought that is what I wanted to do as well as that is what I originally was studying when I went to school. But…plans and paths change and I’m very happy with my current role. Yet, it was still really fun earlier this week when I got to fill in as teacher for my own kids and give a lesson.
This past October 12th was Indigenous Peoples Day, and I was excited to teach this lesson and help start my kids with lessons of history that I didn’t learn until much more recently. Through my work I have gotten to forge a great relationship with staff at the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. I have worked closely with their Education and Head Start staff and had the opportunity to attend their Grand Ronde Tribal Education Summit two of the last three years. It is fascinating and heartbreaking to learn and listen to the stories of the indigenous nations that preceded our current government and nation. Yet, it is also inspiring and encouraging to see how resilient, generous, and eager to share the people that I have worked with are.
It is really important to me to pass on this learning to my kids from an early age and to make sure they understand the full story of our nation’s history and…most importantly…indigenous people are still here! They are not just part of our history and a past to be studied, they are living, working, adapting and striving to succeed just like the rest of us. They are also working diligently to rebuild and maintain traditions and languages that were almost completely forcibly wiped out.
My lesson focused on the tribes that lived and still live on the lands we currently live on today and some of the traditions and stories they are seeking to maintain. These tribes for the places we’ve lived (Salem and Portland, Oregon) are the Kalapuya, Ahantchuyuk, Santiam, Atfalati and Cowlitz. We spent time learning about the pacific lamprey…an incredibly fascinating and unique fish and one with a lot of historical and cultural significance to many of the tribes that make up Grand Ronde. We watched a couple short videos, read some fun books created by authors from the Grand Ronde Community and finished with a math activity and water pollution demonstration.
It was a lot of fun and I believe it really had a great impact on them. As distance learning and school from home continue I plan to continue introducing more of our nation’s complete history with them in fun lessons and activities. If you’re interested in some of these activities and other resources I have included some links below that were very helpful to me as I prepared the lesson and have great information that everyone should get the chance to read and learn from. I especially encourage you to check out the first link (a map of indigenous and native lands) to see which peoples inhabited the land that you are currently living on so that you can hopefully learn more about their specific stories and culture and honor the legacy they left while also acknowledging the suffering they have endured.
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For more articles from this author, check out his blog at This is Fatherhood!