Hedreich Nichols

Nostalgic Narratives vs. Native American History

As we approach November when the country highlights the histories of Indigenous Peoples of North America, it’s fitting that Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, based on the book by David Grann, calls our attention to the heinous crimes committed against the Native American community. In contrast to the narratives many of us have grown up with that cast the “Injuns” and “Red Man” as savages and bad guys, this movie highlights the deception and murder, as well as the racial jealousy that we’ve begun to see in Black historical films, but that are still new themes in films featuring Native American Narratives.

The fact is, if you grew up learning “…Columbus sailed the ocean blue…” or singing the famed Disney line, “Why does he ask you ‘how’?” then there are probably a lot of nostalgic moments involving beloved relatives that are hard to let go of. And thinking of heroic leaders as the same people who forcibly removed and killed millions of people to get their land is difficult to process. But if we want to grow and be better as a nation, process it we must. Doing the next right thing starts with acknowledging and teaching truth to the next generations.

Here are resources to help you further explore narratives that should have been amplified long ago:

  1. Watch The Osage Murders from the 2022 PBS Short Film Festival⁠⁠ ⁠to hear the story of the Osage murders told from the Osage perspective.
  2. ⁠Explore and support cultural endeavors⁠ in Native American Communities by listening, watching reading or donating.
  3. ⁠Watch movies and clips ⁠written and produced by indigenous voices.
  4. Find out what Nation originally lived on the land you live on at ⁠https://native-land.ca/⁠.
  5. ⁠Join the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and Teaching for Change⁠ for a day of online conversation, curriculum highlights, and ideas exchange. If you can’t, explore the other links and resources on Smithsonian’s NMAI site.

It’s never easy seeing the dark side of someone we esteem. But if we are truly to love our nation, it has to include loving all of her. In November, take the chance to get to know America’s origin story. As usual, all the resources are filled with resources, so you have more than enough to discover with your team, your students or even your family. Finally, here’s a short read from Edutopia that you can share in a newsletter or morning email.

I wish you a great month of discovery and learning.