Hedreich Nichols

Turkey in the Straw

Small Bites Friday Five 11-20-20:

20-30m –Spend some time exploring the NPS indigenous stories and reflecting over the old cowboy and “Indian” movies. Do it with your families, with your students.

15-20m – Put yourself in timeout, the world will not stop turning. Use that time to do whatever recharges you.

10-15m – Look at your lesson plans and reflect on how your students can show mastery in fewer steps. Don’t teach less, don’t question less, but reduce testing stress. In populations that are struggling educationally and because of COVID more than others, a little ‘air’ is helpful.

5-10m Look up the most recent CDC and WHO guidelines and share them with your students and families. Do everything you can to mitigate COVID spread over the holidays.

0-5m – Breathe. Just breathe. Here’s a meditation from Flocabulary that I do with my students.

This year I had really all but decided that I was NOT buying a turkey. I barely like turkey. And for my small family, that’s a WHOOOOOOLE lotta leftovers that I don’t like. But the pull was so strong that I not only bought one, I created a whole Small Bites about it.

Thing is, I grew up in a house where none of us really liked turkey. I remember this same conversation with my grandmom who made THE best fried chicken. It would have been a much better choice, but, we always went with turkey. Here I am, generations later, a whole grown up, and I have a turkey alarm set on my phone so I don’t forget to defrost starting Sunday.

That’s the pull of traditions. I can say that the confederate flag is a symbol of hate because it is flown by Americans who who fought for human trafficking, kept citizens from voting and education and is today carried by people who lynch (domestic terrorists). However, in my life as a Texan, I have met some mostly benevolent people who did not see that flag as egregious, it was simply a symbol of Southern pride. It was the flag that had been in grandpa’s truck, the same grandpa that taught them to fish and hunt. It was the flag touted in history books as a symbol of heroism, a flag revered without consideration of the definition of treason.

If I am honest, I was 16 before I realized that my Southern pride and patriotic education left little room for honest discourse about what we were really proud of.

This Thanksgiving, let’s look honestly at what we have been taught to internalize as fact and ask ourselves, ‘who else was there’, ‘what might have been their experiences?’

Do we consider that the Sioux and Cheyenne were protecting their land and that it was the settlers who were the interlopers since the land was already settled?

Do we consider that although Thomas Jefferson had a longstanding dalliance of some kind, that Sally Hemings was his property, a girl of 14 who he impregnated, whether or not it was her choice?

Do we consider that there are traditions that may or may not be steeped in false narratives or shaded versions of truths that, like a mountain range, may have many views and vantage points?

Do we consider that many songs like Turkey in the Straw or the Eyes of Texas may be traditional songs better left to their racist pasts?

I know that traditions connect us to our past and our world at large, like me buying that turkey I don’t really want to eat. But I also know that setting aside traditions that have out-served their usefulness makes room for growth. As we prepare for our holiday traditions this year, let’s reflect on them and broaden our viewpoint to include the stories of others who share our journey, but not our path.