To the Editor:
How is it possible that Education Week did nothing in its pages to highlight November as Native American Heritage Month?
I work with an organization that helps resolve civil rights complaints against Native Americans, most of which originate in education. This is not simply a reservation-school issue; it is imperative to raise students’ awareness of the continued existence of Native Americans, their thriving cultures, and their place in history as much more than victims of war.
American Indians influenced the evolution of the U.S. Constitution, encouraged the suffragette movement, and played a role in the development of foods and medicines still popular today. The neglect of schools to teach about such contributions and concerns absolutely results in civil rights complaints.
As a leader in educational outreach, you have a responsibility to guide educators to information they will not easily find otherwise. Bring change, respect, and inclusion not just to the reservations and border towns, but also to areas in which the only representation of Indians may be as a stereotypical sports mascot.
I encourage readers to visit the Web sites of Students and Teachers Against Racism (www.racismagainstindians.org) and the Changing Winds Advocacy Center (www.changingwinds.org) to see how education has affected the civil rights of American Indians. I also recommend the site www.tolerance.org, which has a hefty section on Native American Heritage Month.
A version of this article appeared in the November 29, 2006 edition of Education Week as Highlight Native American Culture and Contributions