This is a guest post by Karen Schroeder, President of Advocates for Academic Freedom
A Thanksgiving lesson that teaches hate, fear, and racism rather than collaboration, diversity, and respect for truth has been prepared for students in Wisconsin K-5 classrooms. According to the Department of Public Instruction website, this approach was first recommended in 1977.
This Thanksgiving lesson is based upon a “likelihood, the ‘First Thanksgiving’ in colonial America was proclaimed in 1637 to commemorate the murder of approximately 700 Pequot Indians at Mystic Fort.” This disgusting hypothesis is based on the admitted supposition of the late Professor William Newell of the University of Connecticut.
Current social studies standards in Wisconsin include, “Explain how and why events may be interpreted differently depending upon the perspective of participants, witnesses, reporters, and historians.” This standard places perceptions above truth and allows the suppositions of a college professor to be given sufficient credibility to reshape American history and traditions.
Incredibly, Wisconsin State Superintendent Tony Evers has allowed the DPI website to continue posting this Thanksgiving lesson developed by CREATE, an initiative that grew out of the Wisconsin State Performance Plan developed by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction under guidance by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs.
Missing facts include but are not limited to: the first recorded Thanksgiving with Native Americans was in 1621—NOT the 1637 date preferred by the professor. Native Americans are NOT native to America. They, too, were immigrants from other continents. American settlers often paid for land by trading goods and services as was customary in many nations.
Claiming that beads were not fair payment shows a lack of respect for custom and for the value of those beads which were prized by Native Americans. Today, wealthy women may pay $12,000 for a beaded evening gown. That is what one has to pay for a heavily-wooded acre lot in our subdivision.
During that time period, nations expanded by conquering other nations. A more positive lesson would be one which compares that reason for war to the reasons used today. Children would benefit from discussing whether mankind has become more respectful of life and the rights of people from other nations. To condemn only American settlers for a historical practice is to advocate self-hatred while subjugating truth.
Actual documents from the 17th century include Edward Winslow’s writings in Mourt’s Relation and William Bradford’s account in Of Plymouth Plantation. They describe a hunting party of four men returning with a fowl. Help was offered by “king Massasoyt and some ninety men, whom for three dayes were entertained and feasted.” According to these accounts, five deer were brought to the celebration by the Massasoit Indians. Although some words are misspelled, these documents show that the settlers were very grateful and respectful for the kindnesses shown by the Massasoit Indians. This well-documented story should be shared and preserved.
Some educators vociferously demand a respect for collaboration among people and a respect for diversity and the collective. The original Thanksgiving account accomplishes all of these goals, so why change the story?
For any State Superintendent of Education to encourage policies that teach kindergarten children that many of their ancestors would feast to celebrate the slaughter of other human beings is infuriating. Why would these children want to return to a classroom to learn more about the history that represents their ancestors as vile people? This accused behavior is in direct contradiction to the Judeo-Christian values used to shape a Declaration of Independence, a Constitution, and a Bill of Rights which require that all people are equal under the law and that none should be deprived of their life, liberty, or property. Who would want children to disavow historical support for these values?
When a federal test question is aligned to a federal standard which teaches that the first American Thanksgiving was a celebration of the slaughter of 700 Pequot Indians, that concept will also be the only acceptable answer to a test question on that subject. This prevents teachers and parents from teaching their children the truth.
Greater numbers of parents and children want out of a school system that is growing more politicized as the federal government assumes greater control of the standards, curricula, and testing materials.
Ehlers, J., and P.L. Gibbard, 2004a, Quaternary Glaciations: Extent and Chronology 2: Part II North America, Elsevier, Amsterdam. ISBN 0-444-51462-7.
Wells, Spencer; Read, Mark (2002). The Journey of Man – A Genetic Odyssey(Digitised online by Google books). Random House. pp. 138–140. ISBN 0-8129-7146-9.
Dyke A.S. & Prest V.K. (1986). Late Wisconsinian and Holocene retreat of the Larentide ice sheet: Geological Survey of Canada Map 1702A
Dickason, Olive. Canada’s First Nations: A History of the Founding Peoples from the Earliest Times. 2nd edition. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1997.
Native American populations descend from three key migrations http://phys.org/news/2012-07-native-american-populations-descend-key.html
Karen Schroeder is the President of Advocates for Academic Freedom, a member of the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board, an experienced public school teacher with an MA, and an educational consultant. She provides informational seminars to promote citizen involvement at local and state levels of the educational system. Ms. Schroeder provides testimony before legislative bodies regarding educational issues. She is frequently interviewed by radio personalities including Wisconsin’s Vicki McKenna. Karen writes for thirty-two publications including the EAGnews.org and Daily Caller. Karen can be reached at kpfschroeder@centurylink.