Combating Discrimination Against First Nations with Education

Native American Children’s Historic Forced Assimilation https://www.sapiens.org/culture/native-american-boarding-schools-photos/

Introduction
We have written in the recent past about the unique plight of First Nations that reside within the United States of America. They are sovereign nations within a nation. I have always been told through my own family oral history that I have Native American ancestry (Cherokee in particular). Perhaps that is why I have always been intrigued and interested in researching and studying the history and culture of the hundreds of Indian Nations that have their roots in the Americas. There are 570 federally recognized tribes in the US alone. Truth be told, I have always identified with my African roots, as that has been the most obvious part of my cultural and ethnic heritage. And quite frankly, it has always been emphasized in my family and community. Much like the black experience in the United States First Nations have had a sad and troubled history. In fact, there is a long history of black and Indian relations. A group known as Black Indians have a history that is inseparable from Native Americans. Racial prejudice, broken treaties, broken promises, murder, rape, poverty and widespread disease has been an unfortunate part of the Native experience in the Americas. The times we live in are no different. In fact, under the current political structure the problems in Native American communities seem to have been exasperated, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 and First Nations
Navajo nations have been hit especially hard by the pandemic. A recent Newsweek article from May 11, 2020 stated that “the novel coronavirus has killed 100 of the more than 3,100 confirmed patients in the Navajo Nation, a Native American territory spanning 27,000 square miles across parts of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.” This is a very high number in relation to the Navajo population. In fact, The Guardian reported that the Navajo territory has “the highest per capita infection rate in the U.S. after New York and New Jersey, two of the worst-hit states in the country.” What makes this even more tragic is that the Navajo nation does not have the same resources as New York or New Jersey to combat the virus. Native Americans continued to get the short end of the stick and were recently overlooked in terms of funding distribution. But thanks to a lawsuit filed against the federal government the Navajo was granted $600 million in federal funding to combat the virus.

Educational Resources for Learning about First Nations
One way to combat discrimination and prejudice against first nations is through the realm of education. In this way, teachers can be intentional about providing lessons that educate students on Native American culture and heritage. Here are some lessons on Native culture and history to get teachers started.  

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20 Comments

  1. It is very easy for humans to think only about themselves and what is affecting them, especially during times like this. The whole world is struggling due to COVID-19. People are angry at the government, at each other, they want things to go back to normal but are also scared. I hate to admit it, but I cannot say that I have thought about how this has affected groups of people such as Native Americans. I am very glad to hear that they have received funding to help themselves, and I will be keeping up with this subject more.

  2. Racism is defiantly still a major problem, especially in America. Ive learned some things regarding racism towards Native Americans, but that was mostly all based around things in early American times when America was first “discovered.” I had no idea the extent of what some Natives go through, nowadays i believe we all relate racism just to what we see around us everyday, as in African Americans and Hispanics. Its mind blowing that the Navajo territory is the 3rd leading area of corona virus infection, yet the resources are so low, and had to resort to a lawsuit to get the funding/help they needed. I personally hope any ideas of racism will cease to exist one day, and hopefully in my future lesson plans, i can incorporate anything extra i can to shed light on some of the things that tend to go unnoticed.

  3. I found this article to be enlightening. I was unaware that native american’s were not getting the same resources or funding that the rest of the nation is getting. I am glad they were able to win their lawsuit to be given funding to fight the virus. I have always felt like Native Americans were the least talked about in regards to racism. Looking back at history, they were some of the most targeted groups of people. “Trail of Tears” being a main example. I appreciate the advice to try and incorporate and shed light on the matter in future lesson plans. Even as an Art Education major I know there are so many lessons I can do to teach my students about the matter.

  4. It is surprising to hear that the Navajo nation received little help from the federal government after they have had such a high death rate. Many Native American tribes have experienced atrocious discrimination since the Colonisation began. Many non-Native Americans still don’t know much about the cultures and heritage of the hundreds of tribes across the country. If we could teach the public more about their cultures and traditions, we could at least help remind many of the discrimination these tribes still face today, like not receiving proper funds to address health issues until after filing a lawsuit.

  5. I am almost embarrassed to recognize that I was completely unaware of the situation with the Navajo nations. It is sad to think that a population that has been part of this country since the beginning and have fought to keep their native beliefs and culture alive had to file a lawsuit to be considered for funding to fight this pandemic that is affecting everyone around the world one way or another. Healthcare should be a priority for everyone regardless of color, race, gender, nationality, etc.
    Unfortunately, we are selfish by nature. Often times we keep our worries to the point where it concerns us or affect us, but the truth is we will never be better humans, a better community, and left alone a better country if we don’t protect one another and our heritage.
    Dr. Childs thanks for sharing this article and for helping on educating us on topics we usually do not think about.

  6. This article was eye-opening for me. Often times as a country, I feel we neglect and forget about Native Americans when it comes to politics, economics, and supporting them. It’s infuriating to think that we killed their ancestors, stole their land, displaced them, destroyed their culture, ruined their lives, and then forgot about them. And what do they have to show for it? Tiny reservations of low quality lands? America did what little it had to to “make amends” and then swept them under the rug like it never happened. It’s infuriating how we treat them, and we’re all to blame. However, that wasn’t what what was eye0opening. That was just a fact we all know but choose to ignore.
    What was eye-opening for me about this article was the effect of Covid 19 on Native Americans. These are people with low quality healthcare systems and no support from our government. How drastic could the effects of this virus be? Will they lose stories, taken to the grave with elders? How many will die? Who will be left crippled? Will their culture crumble as a result? How easy would it have been to support them? Could this have been prevented?
    The treatment of the Native American people by America has been disgusting. Their history is tragic, haunted by hundreds of years of disease, violence, war, plague, and displacement. Now it’s time to start giving back what we took. If we educate the future generations about their culture and provide them opportunities for better lives, we can finally begin the process of healing and forgiveness, but this time the right way.

  7. It’s heartbreaking to hear that the Navajo Indians are third in terms of COVID-19 infections and deaths per capita, behind only New York and New Jersey and yet fail to have the funds that these states have available. During a world-wide Pandemic it’s easy to think in terms of survival mode, and adopt a “me first” mentality, and not consider other populations.
    However, we must always remember our history and make every effort to make sure that every person of every race has the same resources available. Why did a lawsuit have to be filed on behalf of the Navajo to receive Federal funding to fight the Corona virus? This should have been made available to the Navajo immediately.

  8. I found this article to be extremely educational and alarming. I was shocked to hear that The Guardian reported that the Navajo territory has “the highest per capita infection rate in the U.S. after New York and New Jersey…” I was also sadden to learn the neglect they faced when combating COVID-19. I think that goes to show the racism toward the Native Americans in the USA. I also think that if not for the lawsuit filed to get the aid they you would be without any government assistance.

  9. The linked article from the Guardian is heartbreaking. Due to a lack of hospital beds infected individuals were sent back home. Many of the homes are overcrowded with multiple generations living together. Some homes are heated using fossil fuels which irritate the lungs on top of COVID-19 complications. Another setback for the Navajo is the higher percentage of children with childhood obesity, making them more susceptible to COVID-19 complications. It is hard to think of America as the greatest country on earth when things like this are happening.

  10. I wish that I could say that I am surprised to see that the Native people in this country are one of the groups most affected by this pandemic, but that’s sadly not the case. For ages they’ve been disproportionately affected in so many areas, including but not limited to poverty and human trafficking. It certainly doesn’t help that they are not being given the same treatment and level of concern or care as other areas of the United States during this pandemic. Reading the Guardian article, I was furious to hear how slow the federal government was to provide relief. This country has got to stop treating it’s native populations like second-class citizens.

  11. I too have Native American ancestry in my lineage, so I am always very interested in hearing of issues they are facing. I have read that the COVID-19 pandemic was impacting some demographics more than others, but I had not heard of the Navajo Nation’s troubles with the disease. I was alarmed and sad to read that the Navajo had the highest rate of infection per capita after New York and New Jersey. Bravo to the federal funding being given to them to help combat the pandemic and help them through this crisis.

  12. The Covid 19 pandemic has not only affected people in America, but people in other countries as well. This situation is unfortunate, because this could have been prevented if strict precautions were taken earlier on. When i did research I found that African Americans were mostly dying form this virus, and why i could not quite understand. Which shows how much of a difference there is with race within this society and how different races are affected by this virus.

  13. The linked article from the Guardian is heartbreaking. Due to a lack of hospital beds infected individuals were sent back home. Many of the homes are overcrowded with multiple generations living together. Some homes are heated using fossil fuels which irritate the lungs on top of COVID-19 complications. Another setback for the Navajo is the higher percentage of children with childhood obesity, making them more susceptible to COVID-19 complications. It is hard to think of America as the greatest country on earth when things like this are happening. It is heartbreaking to see such negative things happening in not just our country but countries around the world. I think their needs to more awareness to those out there who are not as educated as some are.

  14. Due to a lack of hospital beds infected individuals were sent back home. Many of the homes are overcrowded with multiple generations living together. Some homes are heated using fossil fuels which irritate the lungs on top of COVID-19 complications. Another setback for the Navajo is the higher percentage of children with childhood obesity, making them more susceptible to COVID-19 complications. It is hard to think of America as the greatest country on earth when things like this are happening. It is heartbreaking to see such negative things happening in not just our country but countries around the world. I think their needs to more awareness to those out there who are not as educated as some are.

  15. Although I have known about the atrocities that the Native American community suffered during the history of the United States, I did not know of the extent of discrimination against them today. The lack of funding for the Covid-19 pandemic, when the population has such a high mortality rate associated with it, is not justifiable. I am glad that they were granted the funded need, but they should have not had to go to court to get it when funding was so easily passed out to the states during this time. I agree with Dr. Childs, in that they way to change this discrimination and prejudice is the education of the oppression that they face.

  16. The idea that they were struggling with the Coronavirus and were hit with it hard is sad. But it is even more sad that they weren’t given proper funding until someone filled a lawsuit against the government. I am glad that they got the funding but the idea they are constantly faced with these types of struggles and are just overlooked is troubling. This just shows how the people with money and power are the ones that matter and can prevail. This shouldn’t be the case in our society we should be more willing to help others and not just think about ourselves.

  17. You would think by now that the people would respect the tribes more, seeing as they were the ones who ruled the land before. Their culture is often misrepresented and I think that educating ourselves can help with discrimination (like you mentioned). Highest infection rate per capita would imply that that never had the supplies they needed. Pretty unfortunate.

  18. I found this article very intriguing because during this COVID-19 pandemic, I have never given The First Nations much thought. I agree that Native Americans living in the United States do get the short end of the stick and that their culture should be taught and appreciated in our education system. As a future social studies teacher, I know that will fall on me and am proud to do the job. Native American culture is very fascinating and many lessons can be used to teach students.

  19. To start I enjoy how at the end of the article, there are multiple lesson plans available for anyone to teach a lesson on Native culture and history. I think people are so hurtful and mean because the way the Natives live, do not reflect the way they live, and that is truly sad. Natives should have the right to funding because we came to their land and started taxing people on this land. They never had any control over the land that they called home, and would possibly never have wanted to live the way we live. That would be the same as someone coming to your home and taking over everything, making you live the way they want. COVID-19 is effecting the Natives tremendously because our government never took proper care of them, as they should have.

  20. For this response I chose “combating discrimination against First Nations with Education”. I feel like this is a topic that is not breached enough in our cultures today. First Nations people are a group that has been highly discriminated against all throughout history and very little is ever done about it. I really liked how it gave us as teachers a role in helping combat this prejudice. I believe that education, healthcare, and other resources would help a long way in putting the First Nations people in better circumstances and combating the high rates of illness and poverty among them.

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