Episode 10, Season 2
To better understand the United States’ past and present, we need to better understand Indigenous identities—and classrooms play a huge role. This starts with examining what’s missing from our social studies, history, civics and government curricula. Throughout this episode, we reference the K-5 Framework for Teaching Hard History as we shed light on key topics like sovereignty, land and erasure.
Note: Native nations are domestic dependent nations and have a legal status equal to but not lesser than that of the states. This means that state law cannot supersede Indian law. A great place to learn more is the National Congress of American Indians' report Tribal Nations and the United States: An Introduction.
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Resources and Readings
- Sarah Shear and Meredith McCoy, What's in a name? A note on terminology
- Dr. Debbie Reese, Teaching Hard History, Episode 6: Teaching Slavery through Children's Literature, Part 2
- Teaching Hard History: K–5 Framework, Essential Knowledge 3 “The rich cultures of Indigenous people persisted despite the colonial invasion.”
- Teaching Hard History: K–5 Framework, Essential Knowledge 15 “In every place and time, enslaved people sought freedom”
- Teaching Hard History: K–5 Framework, Essential Knowledge 16 “Enslaved people worked to preserve their home cultures while creating new traditions”
- National Museum of the American Indian, Native Knowledge 360°
Meredith McCoy (Chippewa), American Studies and History, Carleton College
Lakota Pochedley (Pottawattamie), Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, Gun Lake Tribe
Leilani Sabzalian (Alutiiq), Indigenous Studies in Education, University of Oregon
Sarah Shear, Social Studies and Multicultural Education, University of Washington—Bothell
- Turtle Island Social Studies Collective
- Combahee River Collective
- Sandy Grande (Quechua), Red Pedagogy: Native American Social and Political Thought
- Leilani Sabzalian, Indigenous Children’s Survivance in Public Schools
- Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang, Decolonization is not a metaphor
- Thomas King (Cherokee), The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America
- United Nations, Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People
- Montana, Indian Education for All
- Understanding Native Minnesota
- Dr. Stephanie Fryburg (Tulalip), Of Warrior Chiefs and Indian Princesses: The Psychological Consequences of American Indian Mascots
- American Studies Journal, Designing a Teaching Unit on Chris Eyre’s Skins
- Confederated Tribes of Coos, Tribal Court and Peacegiving
- Chinook Indian Nation, A Letter to the President
- Christine Sleeter, Critical Family History
- Philip Deloria, The Invention of Thanksgiving: Massacres, myths, and the making of the great November holiday, The New Yorker
- LaDonna Harris (Comanche), Indigeneity, an alternative worldview: four R's (relationship, responsibility, reciprocity, redistribution) vs. two P's (power and profit)
- First Nations Development Institute, Reclaiming Native Truth
- Lewis and Clark Trail, Tribal Legacy Project
- Native Web, Native Newspapers
- Adrienne Keene (Cherokee) and Matika Wilbur (Swinomish/Tulalip), All My Relations (podcast)
- Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (adapted by Jean Mendoza and Debbie Reese), An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People
- Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants
- Leilani Sabzalian, Indigenous Children’s Survivance in Public Schools
- Learning for Justice, What Is Settler-Colonialism?
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Throughout this season, we’ve been outlining how teaching the history of Indigenous enslavement is critical to understanding the history and legacy of colonialism in North America. And that’s even more of a challenge when talking about Indigenous identity is new to most teachers. And most state standards don't offer much guidance or support.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: The Turtle Island Social Studies Collective is a group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars who live and work all around the country. These four educators collaborate on research, writing and making resources available to counter colonialism in social studies education and to amplify the work of Indigenous studies scholars and change-makers. My co-host Meredith McCoy is a part of the collective, and she’s going to bring us into a conversation with her creative community.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: As a teacher, this work can be difficult when you’re on your own. But building professional learning communities can be vital to sustain and grow your practice. This collective is an inspiring model, and I'm glad to share their work with you. I’m Hasan Kwame Jeffries and this is Teaching Hard History: American Slavery, a special series from Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. This podcast provides a detailed look at how to teach important aspects of the history of American slavery. In each episode we explore a different topic, walking you through historical concepts, raising questions for discussion, suggesting useful source material, and offering practical classroom exercises.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: In our second season, we are expanding our focus to better support elementary school educators, to spend more time with teachers who are doing this work in the classroom, and to understand the often-hidden history of the enslavement of Indigenous people in what is currently the United States.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Talking to students about slavery can be emotional and complex. This podcast is a resource for navigating those challenges, so teachers and students can develop a deeper understanding of the history and legacy of American slavery. Our social studies classrooms play a big role in shaping how our students understand the world. We need to take a close look at what we’re actually teaching them about Indigenous identities through our history, civics and government curriculums.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: In this episode, we’re going to hear from Meredith McCoy, Lakota Pochedley, Leilani Sabzalian, and Sarah Shear: the members of the Turtle Island Social Studies Collective. They offer us many insights, including the significance of our language choices, the context of treaties and tribal sovereignty, the need to incorporate Indigenous resistance and resilience, and dispelling myths of the erasure and invisibility of Native peoples. Throughout this episode, our guests will refer to the K-5 Framework for Teaching Hard History from Teaching Tolerance,citing specific essential knowledges. If you’d like to follow along, there is a link in the episode description. Or you can find the framework online at tolerance.org/hardhistory, all one word.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: I’ll see you on the other side. Enjoy!
Meredith McCoy: Welcome to a special edition of Teaching Hard History: American Slavery. Today I'm in Austin, Texas at the National Council for the Social Studies annual meeting. And I'm so excited to welcome the Turtle Island Social Studies Collective to the podcast. Welcome, folks!
Sarah Shear: Thank you.
Leilani Sabzalian: Hi.
Lakota Pochedley: Boozhoo.
Leilani Sabzalian: Thanks. Happy to be here.
Meredith McCoy: I'm joined here in person by Leilani Sabzalian and Sarah Shear and via phone from Kalamazoo, Michigan, by Lakota Pochedley. These women are some of my scholar heroes, and they're my closest collaborators. And together we formed the Turtle Island Social Studies Collective. As a group of four Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars working together, we are committed to countering colonialism in social studies education, and to amplifying the work of Indigenous change-makers.
Meredith McCoy: Two of the scholars in our collective are Anishinaabekweg. Lakota is Potawatomi and I'm Turtle Mountain Ojibwe. For us, this idea of Turtle Island is really important, and it's part of our creation story. And we use the term Turtle Island to draw attention to the importance of ongoing relationships between Indigenous peoples and our homelands, and to the decolonial emphasis on Indigenous people getting our land back, as discussed by scholars like Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang.
Meredith McCoy: This matters in social studies education. All education after all, occurs on Indigenous lands. Now, any label runs the risk of erasing or homogenizing Indigenous peoples' multi-faceted experiences and ways of knowing, but we see our name as a way to reflect the shared experiences of colonization, our solidarity with one another and our continued commitment to anti-colonial education on this continent.
Meredith McCoy: I'm so excited to be here with the other members of the collective. And a note to our listeners: Native folks, especially those of us working in Indigenous Studies, when we introduce ourselves we often start in our language if we know any of our language. You may not understand exactly what we're saying, but what you will hear is us grounding ourselves in our language, and that's an important way of how we present ourselves in public spaces.
Meredith McCoy: Lakota, would you please introduce yourself to our listeners, however it feels comfortable to you.
Lakota Pochedley: Bozho jayék, Bodwéwadmikwe ndaw. Shishibéniyek ndebéndagwes. Mang o ndodém. Lakota Pochedley ndezhnëkas. Mnowedokwet nnishnabé noswen. Cleveland, Ohio ndë wtthbya. Kalamazoo, Michigan ėdayan. Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Bodwéwadmi nmiktthéwi.
Lakota Pochedley: Hello, everyone. My name is Lakota Pochedley. I am Citizen Band Potawatomi. I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and then moved to begin working for my tribal nation, Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Shawnee, Oklahoma nearly 10 years ago. During that time I was attending my graduate program in Curriculum and Instruction in Social Studies Education at the University of Texas, so I had the opportunity to do my full-time student teaching in Oklahoma. I recently moved up to Michigan about two years ago, and now I currently work as the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, or they're also known as Gun Lake Tribe here in Southwestern Michigan.
Meredith McCoy: This is one of the things that I love about the collective - that we're a group of folks who are connected to communities. Some of us are working in practitioner contexts and some of us are working in higher education. Leilani, you're one of the folks working in higher education. Would you say hello to our listeners?
Leilani Sabzalian: Cama'i. Gui Leilani Sabzalian. Oregon-mi suullianga. My name's Leilani Sabzalian. I'm Alutiiq (Alaska Native), but I was born and raised in Oregon. I'm currently an Assistant Professor of Indigenous Studies and Education at the University of Oregon, where I teach courses like Elementary Social Studies Methods and courses in social foundations for future teachers. I also lead in-service professional development for teachers, and I'm a co-director now of our Sapsik’ʷałá native teacher education program, where we prepare Native teachers to teach and work in tribal communities.
Meredith McCoy: Thanks. And the next member of our collective, Sarah Shear. Sarah, hi.
Sarah Shear: Hi, I'm Sarah Shear. I'm an Assistant Professor of Social Studies and Multicultural Education at the University of Washington, Bothell. My primary teaching responsibilities at UW-Bothell are to work with our certification students in elementary and soon to be secondary social studies, and I've also been collaborating with my Indigenous education colleagues at other campuses at UW and at Western Washington University to write and implement the new tribal sovereignty coursework requirement for all teacher certification students in the state of Washington.
Meredith McCoy: And in case this is your first time listening in to Teaching Hard History, a framework for teaching American slavery, my name is Meredith McCoy. Boozhoo indinawemaaganidog. Meredith McCoy indishinikaaz. Chejauk nindodem. Nokom onji Mikinock Wajiw, gaye ndonji Northfield, Minnesota. I'm currently an Assistant Professor of History and American Studies at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, where I teach Native Studies. My background is in social studies education as a middle school social studies teacher. I taught sixth- and eighth-grade social studies in Tennessee and Georgia. And I'm so thrilled to now be able to work with future teachers in my role of teaching history.
Meredith McCoy: So on today's episode, we're going to walk through a variety of topics that are really important in thinking about how teachers can bring the experiences of Indigenous peoples into the classroom. If you happen to have the website near you or the framework printed out, you may want to have it on hand. Some of what we'll be doing today will be citing directly from the framework in terms of strategies and language that we think provide really great opportunities for the classroom.
Meredith McCoy: I'd like to go ahead and start us off with terminology, because I know that it's really hard for teachers to even know where to start when they may not feel like they even know the right words. So before we do anything else, I want to turn to the right words. Teachers often ask what's the correct term to use when they're thinking about preparing lessons about Indigenous peoples' experiences. Seriously, this is one of the most common questions we all field in our work and in our personal lives. And it's a good question to ask. If teachers are going to do the hard work of teaching about Indigenous people's relationship to American slavery, they have to feel comfortable using the right language and the right terminology.
Meredith McCoy: So in recognition of the range of Indigenous experiences in what is currently the United States, we'd like to take a moment to explain the issues around the most common terms: American Indian, Native American and Indigenous. And I'll start here. In my house growing up, I used American Indian most commonly because my dad went to law school and studied Indian law. And in policy and law and education, American Indian is often the term that gets used. But at some point in college, I started realizing that most of my peers were using Native, so I gradually transitioned to referring to myself as a Native person. And of course, throughout all of that, I was always thinking first of myself as Turtle Mountain, and that my dad was a citizen of Turtle Mountain, that my grandmother was a citizen of Turtle Mountain, and that my identity was therefore wrapped up in this idea of citizenship to my particular nation. And I also like to use the term Indigenous to gesture towards international solidarity with other Indigenous nations and these shared experiences of colonization. Lakota, what do you tend to use most often?
Lakota Pochedley: At Gun Lake, I serve as their Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, working in the legal realm. And so a lot of my day to day work is with various federal agencies, state agencies and local government. So those terms of "American Indian," "tribe," are extremely important. I'm referencing them because they're listed in our constitution, because they're used in our laws, and so it's really important to continue to use that language. But also, I was a student teacher and did community education in Shawnee, Oklahoma, and what became really important to me was listening to my students, hearing what they preferred. And there's so many tribal nations down there, not only are you necessarily working with students from your own community, you're working with students from Absentee Shawnee Tribe, and Sac and Fox Nation, and Cherokee Nation, and Chickasaw Nation, and Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribe. And so that's where those language terms become really important.
Lakota Pochedley: While folks will use general terms like Native and Indian, when you listen carefully, you'll hear those other terms: Neshnabé, Stecate, Dene. And so you have to think about the context, and for what purpose are you discussing these topics about Indigenous people? Also when you're thinking more globally, “Indigenous” comes into play as well.
Meredith McCoy: Yeah. And I'm so glad that you brought up the idea of listening to Native youth and respecting whatever Native youth tell you in terms of what is the term that they feel comfortable using for themselves. And I think that that's really where this question is coming from teachers, is they're not wanting to speak out of turn or to speak incorrectly. And so I wonder Leilani, could you also speak to sort of how you navigate this in thinking about working with both Native and non-Native teachers in your teacher preparation work? How do you coach them in thinking about what is the right language to use and how they might engage in these conversations?
Leilani Sabzalian: Yeah. So one thing I do when working with teachers is think about the way our reach for a single term to perfectly narrate a diverse Native experience is itself part of the problem, right? Of course, I want teachers to have the correct terms. I want them to know what to do. But it changes depending on what community you're in, it changes across generations. It changes according to who you're talking to. I identify as Alutiiq, but some in my family and community identify as Aleut. There are others who have reclaimed Sugpiaq, which is our name in our own language that means "the real people." And so I think it's important to recognize that there's these differences and to, of course, listen, as Lakota said, to what communities want. You know, I find one of the most useful ways of responding to this question from teachers is to share a quote by Cherokee scholar Thomas King from his book Inconvenient Indian. In the preface, he writes, "Lately, Indians have become First Nations in Canada and Native Americans in the United States. But the fact of the matter is that there has never been a good collective noun because there never was a collective to begin with." And in this brief sentence, you know, King really historicizes and troubles this desire for the proper name. And I want teachers to teach this sentence in classrooms.
Leilani Sabzalian: I think students could examine the various collective nouns and think about how they, in one way, kind of collapse the distinct homelands and languages and knowledge systems and histories of Indigenous nations and communities. But then also collective nouns have been so useful for our struggles, whether or not we want to call ourselves Indian, American Indian, Native American, Indigenous people. So I would love for teachers to teach about the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, for example, which came from strategic and global organizing by Indigenous peoples to assert their collective right to dignity and humanity. Or as another example, teachers could teach about the National Congress of American Indians, which has been a way for Native people and Native Nations to unite and try to hold the U.S. accountable for that nation-to-nation relationship between the federal government and tribal nations. Notice that it's on the one hand, American Indian, on the other Indigenous, but both are working to support this collective struggle. And at the same time, Indigenous, American Indian, those don't really get at what it means to support a pathway towards Diné sovereignty, a pathway towards Alutiiq sovereignty, a pathway towards Ojibwe sovereignty, right? Because these are distinct futures for our people, and so they require distinct consideration.
Meredith McCoy: That was amazing. Beautiful answers! Holy smokes.
Sarah Shear: I can go home now.
Meredith McCoy: I know. We can all go home now. Thank you. Thank you so much, Lakota and Leilani for those beautiful reflections. These terms can be confusing at first. And the thing is that there are complex histories connected to each of the most common terms. Indian Country has always been an incredibly diverse place, and that's actually something that Teaching Hard History emphasizes in our framework. In Essential Knowledge Three of the Framework for Teaching American Slavery, we talk about the necessity of thinking about the diversity of Indigenous peoples. No single term can accurately work for all Indigenous people, and every person is going to have their own preference around what the correct term is to use.
Meredith McCoy: As you think about how to introduce these concepts into your classroom, take some time to really reflect on your own. Listen to Native people around you as Lakota is saying, listen to the words that people use for themselves. And if you're ever in doubt, just ask. It's really important that we call people by the names that they want to be called. It's a sign of respect, and it's something that we can all do. In addition to being thoughtful about the words that we use for Indigenous peoples, we know that tribal sovereignty, treaty rights, Indigenous governance is a critical area of discussion for Native and non-Native students alike. And yet this is something that many students across the United States are largely unaware of.
Meredith McCoy: But when we think about tribal sovereignty, it's important for teachers to understand—I know that this may be new terminology to a lot of folks—that tribal sovereignty is Native Nations' inherent right to self-governance. And it's something that predates the United States. Our inherent right to self-governance was affirmed by our treaties with the United States as they were engaging in nation-to-nation relationships with our governments. It's something that has been reaffirmed through statutes, through Supreme Court decisions, and it's important to remember that this is not something that is gifted to Native Nations. It is something that we already possess. And when Native Nations exercise their sovereignty, it is their inherent right to do so. And that's why when we think about the various levels of governance, we think about the federal government, and then states and tribal nations are sort of on an equal footing, and then local governments. And that's something that's going to be new to a lot of teachers, it's going to be new to a lot of students.
Meredith McCoy: And so the framework talks about this. The Teaching Hard History framework notes that, "Indigenous peoples have always governed their own nations in the lands that are now the United States." But social studies research, including some research in which the members of the collective have been involved, shows that state social studies standards don't offer a lot of guidance to teachers and neither do textbooks, especially when it comes to talking about Indigenous people after 1900 or Indigenous people in terms of our right, our inherent right to self-governance, our tribal sovereignty. Leilani, I'd like to turn to you. How should teachers be thinking about tribal sovereignty and Indigenous governance when they're in their classrooms?
Leilani Sabzalian: I think we need to discuss why these concepts are not currently taught in our classrooms, why they're not currently in our curriculum, why they're not currently emphasized in our text. It doesn't feel good to know that Native Nations with inherent sovereignty that predate the United States have been subject to violence, or were forcibly removed, or were dispossessed through treaties, or were overrun by settlers that illegally squatted on their homelands and then retroactively tried to legalize their presence there.
Leilani Sabzalian: So this knowledge doesn't feel good. And knowing this has implications, right? It makes us responsible for this legacy. It makes us responsible for redressing this violence. It makes us responsible for even considering repatriation. Sometimes it's easier to think of Native people as cultural communities rather than nations that have been wronged and may have legitimate land claims and a legitimate right to repatriate their homelands. And we know historically that knowledge has been created even for that very purpose of maintaining systems of violence. Indigenous peoples were not savages, but they were talked about as savages to justify colonization, to justify the theft of Indigenous lands, to justify assimilation. And Indigenous homelands weren't empty, right? They were framed that way to justify settlement and the development of settler societies on top of these lands. So I think this context was really important for teachers to understand. And then I think some of that context should be brought into classrooms as discussion.
Leilani Sabzalian: For example, when Native Nations and Native people actually exercise their rights, their sovereign rights, their rights to fish, for example, that are affirmed in treaties, they often have to defy the state in order to exercise their inherent rights. And they oftentimes have and continue to face hostility by people for exercising those very rights.
Meredith McCoy: Sarah, how do you see the framework making an intervention into the ways that Indigenous peoples are usually reflected in social studies curriculum?
Sarah Shear: This is a really important intervention because so much of what we have seen in the way that particularly U.S. history standards and textbooks have been written, is about the ultimate erasure of Indigenous peoples. It's very much the story of first contact with Pilgrims and the narrative around creating Thanksgiving. At first friend and then foe, because the United States needed to set up its reasoning for military movements west. And that is really the frame in which the standards and the books cast Indigenous peoples. And so the framework helps to further not only introduce students and teachers to additional histories and then also making the connections to contemporary conversations, but challenges the way that social studies has been very carefully crafted. Indigenous peoples were only in this box related to U.S. history, and African Americans are in this box related to U.S. history. So it really stretches our understanding. There were so many more layers, so many more interactions, so much more insidious decision-making on the part of the United States. It helps teachers introduce students to those complexities that are really important for us to understand why we are where we are now.
Meredith McCoy: You've done a lot of research, along with Leilani, about the ways in which state standards think about tribal governance. And I'm hoping that you can maybe share some of your findings with the listeners.
Sarah Shear: I led a team of researchers when I was a graduate student at the University of Missouri, and we looked at all 50 states and the District of Columbia's K-12 U.S. history standards. And what we saw as we unpacked them for their representations and inclusions of Indigenous peoples and Native Nations was that approximately 87 percent of any of the inclusions were pre-1900 in the U.S. history standards. And they were always framed in the erasure movement, in the westward expansion savagery that Leilani was talking about earlier as part of the reasoning, the justification for theft and for murder. The history study was in 2015, just as Washington’s Since Time Immemorial was coming out and Montana was doing its work with Indian Ed For All, and other states were beginning their initiatives. We see some states doing some really powerful work now, but we're still seeing these predominant erasures of Indigeneity and tribal sovereignty and nationhood.
Sarah Shear: So I like to give one example from the seventh grade in Minnesota. So here is one that includes tribal sovereignty and it reads, "The United States establishes and maintains relationships and interacts with Indigenous nations and other sovereign nations, and plays a key role in world affairs." Now simultaneously in the seventh grade standards of Minnesota, they have another standard that reads, "The United States government has specific functions that are determined by the way that power is delegated and controlled among various bodies. The three levels: federal, state, local, and the three branches: legislative, executive, judicial of government." So what I often think about is when I'm reading these standards and putting myself in the position of when I was a classroom teacher is how to make sense of documents.
Sarah Shear: What do I do when in one grade they have an inclusion that talks about tribal nations as nations in relationship to the United States and an erasure? And I think that's where a really important conversation comes into play with teachers about how do we form our lesson plans? Because when you look at the standards, there's very little support or materials. It's just there. And where is the advocacy in the work once these documents are made to support teachers bringing these conversations to their students?
Meredith McCoy: And that sort of overt erasure that you're talking about, where a standard might list federal, state and local governments and not talk about tribal governments at all, feels to me like we're putting demands on teachers to teach this content when they themselves never received it as students. And at least in my own teacher prep program, we certainly didn't cover these topics. So we really need to be thinking about the ways in which we're building in some scaffolding for teachers so that we're not just throwing them into the deep end. And I hope that that's some of the work that comes out of projects like these, where we are building up some support systems and some resources.
Sarah Shear: Particularly with the civics and government standards, if we really start to dig in and have the conversation about teaching students about tribal government and sovereignty, it forces us to confront who we are in the United States and what has been done. And it implicates greatly the role of social studies in supporting the problem.
Leilani Sabzalian: This idea that some knowledge is avoided or is suppressed, that has everything to do with slavery, about teaching enslavement. You know, people have avoided serious engagement with the institution of slavery just like they've avoided engagement with colonization or really thinking deeply about the implications of sovereignty because it represents difficult knowledge, because it may not feel good to know about its history or its legacy or its implications. I think that's important context for teachers to think about.
Meredith McCoy: Leilani, I think that’s exactly right. Lakota, I want to turn it over to you because when we think about tribal governance and your work working for a tribal government, the work of Native Nations is so important, and it really feels to me like most folks in the United States just don't see the work that Native Nations are doing. And so when you're thinking about, for example, what students in your area should know about the work that Native Nations, tribal governments are doing, how do you think about the way that that should impact the way teachers approach, for example, civics or social studies?
Lakota Pochedley: Most importantly, what I always emphasize is that we are dual citizens. We are citizens of our nations. And it's important not just for our youth to understand that, but for all youth to understand that. One of the most impactful lessons that I ever taught, it was in a U.S. history class while student teaching. We did a lesson specifically around Manifest Destiny in Oklahoma, but at that time was known as Indian Territory. The students were looking at various treaties for the tribal nations in Oklahoma and how they came to have their territories be in Oklahoma through forced removal. The treaty that comes to mind is the 1830 Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek with the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations. And it is their removal treaty. And in the treaty, it uses the language of Choctaw Country. When the students saw that, Native and non-Native students, when they read that parts of Oklahoma were supposed to be Choctaw Country, it totally changed their thinking around why it was important for them to understand tribal sovereignty.
Lakota Pochedley: Also, there's four tribes headquartered in or around Shawnee, Oklahoma. And then another tribal nation that's just 20 miles down the road. More than likely many of these students, they're having some sort of daily interaction with the communities and those tribal governments, whether it is using any of their enterprises, potentially working for those tribal governments. Even if they end up marrying someone from one of those tribal nations, these things are embedded in everything that we see around us, but we are taught not to see them. So whether it is tribal police cars, it is our Indian health clinics, it is our business enterprises, or as simply as you can drive down a single stretch of road and pass "Entering Citizen Potawatomi Nation," and then 20 miles down the road "Entering Seminole Nation." These things are ingrained in the landscapes around us.
Meredith McCoy: We have to help people understand that tribal sovereignty is not some sort of zero sum game where we're trying to take something away from people. We have an inherent right to govern and an inherent right to protect and promote the interests of our people. And that usually ends up in benefits for non-Native folks as well.
Lakota Pochedley: Absolutely.
Meredith McCoy: Part of what you're saying that really is so true is when we are taught not to notice, that then permeates our entire lives. So there are real ramifications for the kind of erasure in the standards that Sarah and Leilani are talking about, that when folks are taught from a very young age that Native people are not around and they're taught that through our media, they're taught that through our schools, then what they're learning is this ingrained behavior of not noticing our presence. And this is what Dr. Stephanie Fryburg talks about as this new form of racism against Native people. That invisibility is the current form of racism and oppression against Native folks. Sarah, do you have an example of how this works?
Sarah Shear: I had an instant flashback to a student comment in a film class that I taught for elementary pre-service teachers, and we watched Chris Eyre's Skins. And at the end of the film we started discussing what they were seeing, what they were feeling while they were watching and connecting it to the readings we had done. And one student said, "They were dressed like regular people." That's an exact quote. I will never forget. And I said, "Please tell us more." Her entire mindframe of Indigeneity was the Thanksgiving stories that she learned in elementary school and watching Disney's Pocahontas. So to see Indigenous peoples in a contemporary context driving down the road, having family gatherings, was completely out of her frame of this is normal. And I think there's a great implication to how education in the United States has been the driving force of this monster.
Meredith McCoy: Leilani, I know you've thought a lot about this, too. Do you want to jump in here?
Leilani Sabzalian: I've been thinking about what are tools and frameworks I can offer teachers for them to read and interrupt the colonial logics that they see in curriculum and to complement and challenge that curriculum. And so two core concepts I'm thinking right now that teachers need to carry with them at all times are one, colonization and two, sovereignty. So we should just assume that your package curriculum is embedded with colonial logics. And when you know that, your role as a teacher, even if you don't have the perfect curriculum, is to question that curriculum along with your students. You ask questions with your students, like when explorers are going off to chart new lands, you say, "Were these new lands? Were these empty lands?" You know, "Were these discovered?" You just ask those questions and you trouble that with your students. And then just presuming that Native nationhood and sovereignty exist, this is an inherent fact, and helping your students to understand it, and even work in service of it.
Leilani Sabzalian: You know, I've been working with some fourth-grade teachers who had their students learn about the Chinook Nation's struggles for restoration of their political status as nations. And their class wrote letters, right? They didn't go, "Right. Save your letters," they looked on the Chinook Nations website and they said, "Hey, this is how you can help us. Write a letter. Write a letter to the president saying why this is important." And so these fourth graders, I think for a couple of years now have been writing letters and just recently received one from the president back. So, you know, look to the Nation's websites. Native Nations' websites are one of the richest sources that teachers can use Native nations' websites are one of the richest sources that—that teachers can use and that students can inquire within. You know, if they go to the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, for example, their website in Oregon, they'll learn about new initiatives they're engaging in. You know, they have an app that some teachers I work with download, a language app so students can learn about this Nation's active efforts to revitalize their language. If you look up the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua & Siuslaw Indians, right? They have the peace-giving court. Restorative justice, for example, is really being talked about as this new thing in schools, but it's a long-standing traditional practice among many Native Nations.
Leilani Sabzalian: And so their students would learn about how that's a tribally-specific restorative justice practice in that community. So tuning into the idea that colonization is always at work in curriculum, and helping your students detect and interrupt its logics, and then the other that you assume that Native Nations exist, you assume they have inherent sovereignty, and now your goal is to help your students learn about that. When you see standards that talk about local, state and federal governments you think, "Could there be other governments?" Talk to your students about tribal governments. That brings that concept of sovereignty to bear.
Meredith McCoy: Leilani, I think what you're saying that really is so important is that when students learn that these are things that they don't know, and this includes when teachers learn the things that they don't know, they're often angry. And they want to know, well, why was I not taught this? And what can I do about it? And one of the first things that we can do in helping them process that anger into something constructive is say, "Okay, let's listen to what Native Nations are telling us." Sometimes this is doing exactly what those students did, and it's just writing a letter in support, amplifying the voices of Native people who are already saying the things that they need. Sometimes it's going to a march. Sometimes it's supporting local tribal economies by buying local and supporting Native businesses. Whatever it is, there are tangible steps that people can put that righteous anger towards to support Native people and make sure that they're then engaging in their own personal reparations. Sarah, I want to just take a little aside here. You know Christine Sleeter, and you know her family's story of engaging in her own version of reparations. Can you just speak for a second about how she, as an educator and as a private citizen, has talked publicly about her family's experiences?
Sarah Shear: Part of Christine Sleeter's work was documenting the land theft and the claims that her family made in inheritance. The book particularly related to her critical family history, and she calculated the amount $250,000 that she returned to the Ute Nation. And one of the things that she's built from that, in addition to writing Inheritance, is having a website space for settlers like myself where people are sharing their own stories of critical family histories. And I think that's a really important site and space for us to begin to learn how to do it, and to see how other people are doing it and how they are not only taking responsibility, but taking the action beyond it. We have to confront where we've come from, who our families have been and who they are, in order to think about the future. And I think Christine's done a really amazing job of shining a light to think about that hard work, and the ways that we can be more than just saying, "I'm sorry." The apology has to come with an action of some kind. And so I think about my own family's background when I was reading Christine Sleeter's work, and the particular context of my mother's father's family being the Lewises of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Yes.
Meredith McCoy: Sorry, Sarah is responding because my eyes just got real big. Things I didn't know about my good friend.
Lakota Pochedley: Are we allowed to laugh on this?
Meredith McCoy: Yeah, we're allowed to laugh.
Sarah Shear: And, you know, as ...
Meredith McCoy: That's a real skeleton in the closet.
Sarah Shear: You know, as Meriwether's cousin—so as I've come to more fully understand the relationship I have to colonization and the fact that Meriwether Lewis is my cousin, it's—I know. It's a lot, y'all. I think about what I can do because I can't, even though I would love to, give back the Louisiana Purchase. But what I can do is make my life's work commitment to changing the curriculum and committing to working alongside y'all and other Indigenous educators and communities, to confronting what's in the textbooks, what's in the standards, and how we are preparing future teachers and working with our current teachers to do the important work and change the way that we talk about U.S. history in relation to Indigenous peoples, and really infusing tribal sovereignty and greater understandings there.
Leilani Sabzalian: I think what you're saying is so important because you don't need to be Native to challenge colonialism, right? You don't need to be Native to challenge curriculum. You don't need to be Native to create space and curriculum for Native voices, to create partnerships with Native people and communities. And so I hope, you know, in your story, other teachers who are non-Native can find themselves in this work and find a way to take up some of these commitments because, you know, in my opinion, we need all hands on deck. We need everybody on board to do this work. This is a shared responsibility, right? This isn't just the work of Native people. This is everyone's work.
Meredith McCoy: You know, Leilani, this is a conversation we can have with teachers, but also how should we be talking with students about these ideas of reparations or restitution?
Leilani Sabzalian: Yeah, I think one of the most promising aspects of social studies instruction and curriculum is that kids can have a chance to think critically and talk about, you know, controversial issues, about deep-seated dilemmas that we have in our society. And I feel like so much imagination and creativity is really wasted in our society sometimes because we spend time with adults talking about issues, but we are so deeply socialized into these systems that we are trying to work against. But kids, they are not invested in property the way we are, you know? They are not socialized into the systems the way we are. Like, I would love for teachers to put children's minds to work, to put youth's mind to work or teenagers, their minds to work on issues like restitution. What does it mean if we account for the legacy of attempted genocide and colonization? What does it mean to engage in processes of restitution and repatriation? What does it mean when we think of the history of enslavement and its ongoing legacy, to think about and enact reparations? And then even more so, what about the tensions between those two projects, right? I think kids are maybe the best positioned in our society to take that on and think about those, because they're not so deeply rooted in the system that we have inherited. They can think outside of it, and we should listen.
Meredith McCoy: This amazing, groundbreaking report called Reclaiming Native Truth just came out from the First Nations Development Institute and IllumiNative, that really describes the state of visibility of Native people and the perceptions of non-Native people of Indigenous America. In light of that amazing piece of research Sarah, why is it so important for you to center the stories of Indigenous peoples in social studies?
Sarah Shear: I keep coming back to this conversation I recently had with Tulalip educator Chelsea Craig about teacher preparation, and she said when we're thinking about the history of colonization in the United States, the ongoing efforts of Indigenous Nations, it's the least we can do. In one statistic coming out of the report, it was a massive number, I think it was something like 40 percent of people replying to the various survey questions did not even think Indigenous peoples were still alive. Social studies is guilty of helping make that number what it is, because if the history standards still say that Indigenous peoples stopped existing in 1900, there's only one conclusion to draw if you're in the fifth grade. And so the least we can do is take responsibility for that in social studies, and do the hard work to address it, addressing the written curriculum, building structures within our teacher education programs, and building relationships with our tribal nation community members, to also help in-service teachers with professional development and with resources and partnerships across organizations. It's a collective responsibility.
Meredith McCoy: Yeah. Yeah. Thank you, Sarah. And Leilani, how does that resonate with you and what are you thinking about?
Leilani Sabzalian: You know of course, I'm thinking of my own two Native children that could be sitting in your classroom. Or if there are no Native children in the classroom. This is our responsibility. I think that students need curriculum that's honest, that affirms Native peoples and knowledge systems and nationhood, that teaches an honest account of our history and our legacy, gives hope for the future. And thinking about the Reclaiming Native Truth Report, another fact in there, in the study led by Stephanie Fryberg, who's also Tulalip, said that learning about systemic oppression was the only information tested that led to significantly greater support for protecting tribal sovereignty, eliminating Native-themed mascots and providing Native communities with resources meant to promote resource equity. And so I think this project of Teaching Hard History, teaching Indigenous enslavement within the broader institution of slavery, can be a catalyst for social change, can be a catalyst for people to recognize people's dignity, their struggles, their aspirations, you know, and work towards a—I don't wanna be like, "I believe the children are the future."
Meredith McCoy: [laughs] We're keeping that in. We are.
Leilani Sabzalian: Teaching about hard history is a necessary step towards a more honest and promising and hopeful future.
Meredith McCoy: And the desire for that is borne out in the Reclaiming Native Truth Report too, right? One of their findings was that 72 percent of Americans support significant changes to the curriculum, such that more accurate history is being taught about Indigenous peoples. Lakota, how are you thinking about the importance of centering Indigenous people's experiences in the classroom?
Lakota Pochedley: We're conducting an activity during the after-school program back in Oklahoma, and we were talking about tribal sovereignty, encouraging students to think through their experiences as citizens of tribal nations, but also existing within the larger framework of Oklahoma. One of the comments that a student made was that they would not ever discuss these things in school because they exist in the shadows from everyone else. Even in their schools, they didn't even feel seen. And so understanding how that operates on a much larger scale as well, and the erasure and invisibility of Indigenous peoples. I think understanding those small personal experiences, it really helps to better understand why this work is necessary, because this is impacting people daily, and understanding who they are and what it means to belong in their communities.
Leilani Sabzalian: That was beautiful, Lakota.
Meredith McCoy: Yeah. And that is so heartbreaking, and is such a critical example of why this work is so necessary.
Lakota Pochedley: And I think so many Native students can point to an experience like that. You know, I even think back to my own experience with my AP U.S. history teacher in high school where after class I went up to him and asked why we had skipped a significant portion of U.S. history, that is Indian history as well, and he told me flat out, it doesn't matter. It's not on the test. So we all have these moments where we recognize the impacts of this legacy of not teaching these histories. And that's why we need to bring these histories to the forefront.
Meredith McCoy: And I hope that that lights a fire under everybody who's listening, because what you're speaking to is the importance of change in our classrooms, the importance of how we talk to our families, how we talk to our communities, and the importance of structural change, right? We have to change the tests, because that is clearly a metric of what we value as a society. We have to change the standards. We have to make sure that this is changed in statute so that it is rendered permanent. And then also that we create the supports to actually implement the statute, whether that is financial or curricular support. We cannot just nod to this and act like we've done our jobs.
Lakota Pochedley: Preach!
Leilani Sabzalian: #Fact.
Meredith McCoy: What we know as Indigenous people is our people have always resisted settler colonial oppression. This is not something that we've taken lying down. And it's so critical as we teach these histories that we talk about settler violence truthfully, and we have to help our students and our teachers really reckon with these hard histories. And while we're doing that, we also need to emphasize Indigenous agency and Indigenous resilience. And it is so important that we not get weighed down in only teaching this through victim narratives. The framework in Essential Knowledge 15 talks about how enslaved people have fought for their freedom. Teachers can think about centering stories about Indigenous people fighting for Indigenous liberation by connecting discussions of contemporary activism with longer legacies of Indigenous resistance. Like, for example, talking about the Pueblo Revolt. Also, the framework talks about how Indigenous peoples have fought for the resurgence of our life ways and the well-being of our nations through, for example, focusing on language revitalization and the centering of Indigenous world views. This is what Leanne Simpson talks about really beautifully as Indigenous resurgence. So, Leilani, would you share with us a little bit about why it is so important to discuss Indigenous resilience and agency with all K-5 students, Native and non-Native?
Leilani Sabzalian: You know, two thinkers come to mind that really help me answer this question. And the first is Eve Tuck. She's an Unangax scholar who has thought really carefully about research and representation that may cause people and communities and students to see themselves as damaged or as broken. She says that in exposing the pain or the hardship or the violence that communities have experienced, that we inadvertently risk inviting the public to think of these communities as damaged or broken. And worse yet, we risk viewing ourselves as damaged or broken, even if our goal is to expose this pain or violence in an effort to foster awareness or social change. And so to counter this, Tuck argues for desire-based frameworks that still account for the violence that we've experienced, but that also emphasize resistance, resilience, wisdom and the knowledge of our communities. And so that lens of desire, more than content to be taught in curriculum is a framework, it's a lens, it's a way of viewing communities, of talking about communities that teachers really need to bring with them to the curriculum.
Leilani Sabzalian: Another person that's really helpful here is Gerald Vizenor. He's an Anishinaabe scholar, and he coined the term "Survivance" to account for this idea that our communities have always done more than survive, and they have always done more than resist. Our communities have actively created spaces for their humanity and for their dignity and for their own aspirations. So this is another lens that I think teachers can bring to curriculum. And so this is why I really love some of these Essential Knowledges that have been carefully crafted in the Hard History framework. So a key point underneath Number Three, for example, 3C, states that, "The rich cultures of Indigenous people persisted despite colonial invasion. And many people are working hard to support the resurgence of Indigenous languages and ways of seeing the world."
Leilani Sabzalian: Similarly, Essential Knowledge 16 states that, "Enslaved people worked to preserve their home cultures while creating new traditions." And underneath this Essential Knowledge, "Students are encouraged to learn that Native Nations continue to develop and thrive, and that Indigenous people have had a profound and enduring impact across what is now the United States." So these lenses of desire and of survivance are so beautifully embedded in the Essential Knowledge, in the framework and the content that teachers are going to teach. And then they're also a lens that teachers can bring with them to all aspects of curriculum. Number 15, I think, is another beautiful example. It says—under Essential Knowledge 15 is a component that says, "Everyday acts of resistance, such as working slowly, breaking tools, feigning illness, feigning ignorance to avoid work and running away for short periods were common." And when I read this, I thought about how children in boarding schools engaged in these very same everyday acts of resistance. You know, we learned from scholars that children marched off beat, right? They ran away. They burned down the schools. I mean, they resisted in small ways and in big, in collective ways. And so I think those lenses that some Indigenous thinkers give us, this idea of desire and survivance are really important so that kids don't see our communities as victims, but as actively, courageously, creatively contesting systems that have sought to dehumanize us.
Meredith McCoy: Leilani, that is such a beautiful reflection. Now Sarah and I both worked as co-authors on the new version of the framework that Leilani just read excerpts from, along with many other talented scholars. And Sarah, I wonder if you can point us to some of the specific things in the framework that you think we really should be thinking about and working with right away.
Sarah Shear: When you visit the framework online, there's some really amazing resources already available for you to begin thinking about using these in your lessons. And there are lessons available, too. There's over 100 primary resource documents in the student texts link within the framework. It's a really great resource because one of the things I always see and hear from teachers, and I'm sure as you're listening you're probably nodding your head, is having time to find materials. And so what's great about the framework and the work that's been done to build it is that that vetting has been done in a really careful and thoughtful way. And so you can go to the student tools and see the resources. You can also look at the teaching tools and see the six sample inquiry lessons that have already been written that can draw inspiration for beginning this work with your students, and then thinking about your own particular specific community that you could then expand in your own lesson planning.
Sarah Shear: There's additional podcast episodes, and then also additional links to other resources such as those written and created by the National Museum of the American Indian, and thinking about Native Knowledge 360, and the really thoughtful connections that the framework has made to other communities doing this work to really show you that you're not alone in this, and there are resources and lesson plans already available to get you started.
Meredith McCoy: So we know that this work is really hard. Many teachers may feel scared about entering into these conversations with students. And right now there may be a teacher listening who wants to do this work and just is discouraged. Sarah, what would you say to that teacher?
Sarah Shear: We need to lean into that feeling, especially when there's so many things on your plate. I think a great way to begin is to learn with your students, to pick up resources, to look at tribal government websites, to read the new Young Reader's version of Indigenous People's History of the United States, and read it together and pose questions together, and speak honestly with your students that you're learning too, and that teachers don't know everything. But it's important that we begin.
Leilani Sabzalian: Yeah, I think the time for this work is now. You, at this very moment, have a Native kid in your class who, if not in your classroom, has already experienced bias or stereotypes or misrepresentation or felt erased or ignored in someone else's classroom. And even if there's no Native kids in your classroom right now, this work is important. And one of the things I see happen is this endless deferral of waiting to be ready in order to teach some of this material. But there's so many things that you can do right now. You can look to the place that you live and teach as Indigenous lands, right? And learn about the Native Nations in your area. You can work in small ways to bring in contemporary Native leaders and change-makers and authors and artists and athletes to give students a sense of the vibrant presence of Native people today. You can subtly or slowly incorporate Native perspectives into your curriculum. You know, if you have to teach about Lewis and Clark, then you can look to a website like Tribal Legacy and grab some quotes from Native people about what their experiences were of the military expedition.
Leilani Sabzalian: You can teach about Native Nations as nations. And like I said, you can look to those tribal nations' websites to do so. You can challenge the power dynamics in your curriculum. You know, when you see neutral words like "exploration" and "discovery," you can remember that we told you those aren't neutral words. Those are colonial logics that are embedded in the official curriculum. And you can disrupt those with your students, alongside your students.
Lakota Pochedley: Also, as you're learning and as you're exploring these topics with your students, don't be afraid to begin reaching out, to begin building those relationships. Rather than inviting someone to come to your school, go visit those tribal nations. Take the time to visit the community. See if there's a Director of Education or Tribal Historic Preservation Officer or a Language and Culture Director that has time to sit down and speak with you, who might be able to give you an idea of community events that might be going on. And from there, you can learn about all those resources. You can get a better sense of the context. Even as you're exploring those tribal nation websites, you may come across newsletters and newspapers, and think about how you can bring in those modern narratives and expressions of governance and community relationship-building.
Meredith McCoy: When I've been working with my students this term, one of the things that we keep coming back to, including with some of my students who plan to be future social studies teachers, is the need to listen. Do the work of educating yourself and then amplify. A lot of the work that you can do is just committing yourself to learn. Learn by listening, and then share when people are asking you to share, and to engage in ways that are respectful and that center contemporary experiences. So you can read a Native newspaper, you can follow Native voices on Native Twitter. But I think the first step really is what Sarah was saying about leaning in and just committing to do the work. All of us are in this work because we believe in a different future for our students, and because we believe in the possibility of a more just and equitable relationship between Native Nations and the United States.
Meredith McCoy: When I was in grad school with Dr. Keith Richotte, who's a Turtle Mountain legal scholar, tribal court judge, he talked about Indian law as being a tree with poisoned roots. And that's a visual that I have carried with me, that as the tree grows and continues to grow new branches, those new branches replicate those same poisoned roots. And so on the one hand, I struggle to have hope for our ability to ever really move the needle on the relationships between Native Nations and the United States when it's built on a foundation of short-cutting Indigenous rights. On the other hand, none of us works in education unless we are deeply hopeful about the future for our kids, about the future for our nations. And I think that the work, the interventions that we're trying to do in frameworks like Teaching Hard History, in teacher education programs, is we're trying to sort of push to the sides all of the misinformation and all of the constructed narratives that obscure the truth about tribal relations with the United States so that we can shine a light on the injustice and work collectively towards a different future. And so I just want to wrap up our conversation with that sort of grounding in why we do this work. And so I'll just turn it back over to Leilani. What gets you up every day to keep doing the work that you do with your teachers?
Leilani Sabzalian: I just have a stubborn hope, this stubborn, rugged hope that even despite everything our people have gone through, justice will happen for our people. And I'm so deeply hopeful about youth and about future teachers that I work with. I work with some of the most amazing Native teachers right now who are going to do the most beautiful things in their classrooms, who don't need to be convinced that teaching about slavery or colonization is important. They just want to get to the work of doing it in schools. You know, I've worked with students who are already at the youngest ages questioning the curriculum and questioning the teachers. So I really feel like it's some of these systems that hold us back. But the communities, the youth, you know, they're teaching us.
Leilani Sabzalian: And I feel like the land is teaching us all the time. Like, I watch what's happening right now on Mauna Kea, this Native Hawaiian-led movement to protect the mountain from this 30-meter telescope. And this is not only a Hawaiian movement. Just like Idle No More, just like Standing Rock, these are beautiful, diverse, multi-racial, land-based solidarities. And I just think we're seeing more and more of those collective efforts of people really learning what it means to be locally responsive, to engage in this place-based politics. I have a lot of hope for that. I have a lot of hope that the more we teach about that, people will take part in that. So yeah, I think our communities have been through so much, but I still just am hopeful.
Meredith McCoy: Sarah and I are over here, like, crying real tears. That was so beautiful. What about you, Sarah? What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Sarah Shear: I think much like what Leilani was saying, this stubborn hope that we—and when I say we, the settlers who are listening, that we are capable of changing. We have to find our humanity because when we hear teachers and teacher educators talking about humanizing or pedagogies and things like that, it's this false sense that by recognizing tribal sovereignty or by breaking open, as the framework does, these really rich and complicated conversations about enslavement, that it brings humanity back to people who have been marginalized. But they've always had their humanity. It was the settlers who were inhumane. And so as we commit to doing the hard work, it's a hope that we are capable of being something different, and that we can be different to our communities and be different in our commitments to our tribal partners and our Indigenous education collaborators. And I think about Bettina Love's writing and the idea that we're planting seeds for things we may never see, but that doesn't mean we stop doing it.
Meredith McCoy: Sarah, what you're talking about really reminds me of something that Robin Wall Kimmerer talks about in Braiding Sweetgrass. She's got this beautiful analogy about plantain and how plantain makes a life for itself as compared to other invasive species. And here's what she says. "Our immigrant plant teachers offer a lot of different models for how not to make themselves welcome on a new continent. Garlic mustard poisons the soil so that native species will die. Tamarisk uses up all the water. Foreign invaders like loosestrife, kudzu and cheatgrass have the colonizing habit of taking over other's homes and growing without regard to limits. But plantain is not like that. Its strategy was to be useful, to fit into small places, to co-exist with others around the dooryard, to heal wounds. Plantain is so prevalent, so well-integrated that we think of it as native. It's earned the name bestowed by botanists for plants that have become our own. Plantain is not indigenous, but naturalized. This is the same term we use for the foreign-born when they become citizens in our country."
Sarah Shear: That's really beautiful. And it makes me think about a teaching from the recently-released and Emmy Award-winning documentary, Dawnland, about the work that settlers need to do to become, and I quote from the documentary, "Neighbors with legitimacy, to think about this is where we live, the structures that are in place, confronting them and thinking about, yes, we the United States owes an apology to a number of communities. And it's not just the words, it's about taking action. What comes next to actually earn the right to live here?" And I think that's really important.
Meredith McCoy: I am so inspired by the work that our Nations are doing and that our tribal colleges are doing around grow-your-own-teacher programs. When y'all are talking about this sort of stubborn hope, that is what I think about is that our people have always kept putting one foot in front of the other and finding new ways to make space for our humanity and our dignity. And right now what I'm seeing is Native folks making the curriculum, Native folks changing the narrative, Native folks building the teaching force to make this a better space for our Native kids. And that, I think is such a hopeful story. And that's part of what I think gets me up in the morning.
Meredith McCoy: I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn alongside these women in our work as a collective. And I can tell you from our experiences this week at the National Council for the Social Studies meeting that there is a hunger that we are trying to work to meet. And we need partners in this work. We're four folks trying to make an intervention, but we need you to partner with us in this work and to make this commitment in your own classrooms. We're going to stop the conversation there in terms of this episode of the podcast, but the conversation continues. We hope to hear from you. Please let us know whether these strategies are working in your classrooms. Please make sure that you're finding your own ways to connect to this work. I just want to say a big chi-miigwetch to my collaborators here with the Turtle Island Social Studies Collective. It's been such a beautiful conversation here with you today on this episode of Teaching Hard History. So thank you so much. Thank you so much for joining us. And I look forward to hearing from our teachers as they listen to the podcast.
Lakota Pochedley: Thank you guys.
Sarah Shear: Thank you.
Leilani Sabzalian: Thank you.
Meredith McCoy: Thank you so much.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Lakota Pearl Pochedley is Citizen Band Potawatomi. She is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Gun Lake Tribe in southwestern Michigan. And she received her Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction in Social Studies Education at the University of Texas.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Leilani Sabzalian is Alutiiq. She is an Assistant Professor of Indigenous Studies in Education at the University of Oregon, where she is also the Co-Director of the Sapsik'wałá Teacher Education Program.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: And Sarah Shear is an Assistant Professor of Social Studies and Multicultural Education at the University of Washington, Bothell. She is working with Indigenous education colleagues at both the University of Washington and Western Washington University to prepare the new tribal sovereignty coursework requirement for the state of Washington for their teacher certification students.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Teaching Hard History is a podcast from Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, helping teachers and schools prepare their students to be active participants in a diverse democracy. Teaching Tolerance offers free resources to educators who work with children from kindergarten through high school. You can find these resources online at Tolerance.org.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Most students leave high school without an adequate understanding of the role slavery played in the development of what is currently the United States, or how its legacies still influence us today. Now in our second season, this podcast is part of an effort to provide comprehensive tools for learning and teaching this critical topic. Teaching Tolerance provides free teaching materials that include over 100 texts, sample inquiries, and a detailed K-12 framework for teaching the history of American slavery. You can find these online at tolerance.org/hardhistory.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Thanks to Ms. Pochedley, Dr. Sabzalian and Dr. Shear for sharing their insights with us. This podcast is produced by Shea Shackelford. Russell Gragg is our associate producer, with additional support from Barrett Golding. Gabriel Smith provides content guidance. And Kate Shuster is our Executive Producer. Our theme song is Different Heroes by A Tribe Called Red featuring Northern Voice, who graciously let us use it for this series. Additional music is by Selva de Mar and Chris Zabriskie.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: I’m Dr. Hasan Kwame Jeffries, Associate Professor of History at The Ohio State University.
Meredith McCoy: I’m Dr. Meredith McCoy, Assistant Professor of American Studies and History at Carleton College.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries and Meredith McCoy: And we’re your hosts for Teaching Hard History: American Slavery.