Thanksgiving happens every year. It just does.
And trying to answer kids’ random Native American history questions during the holidays is just part of being a parent.
But this year, as we learn more about Native Americans truth, kids’ questions could be even more … uh … direct? embarrassing? awkward?
It usually happens when you’re out in public and everyone can hear what you’re saying.
Here’s an example. Imagine you’re at the grocery store contemplating the outrageous price of fresh cranberries when your child casually asks:
“Did Christopher Columbus really discover America?”
Time freezes. Every eyeball in the produce section slowly turns your way to see what you’re going to say.
Trust us, you’ll be a lot happier with your answer if you prepare for this situation. Here’s some kid-oriented Native American Q&A.
Short Answers are the Best Answers
The truth is that most kids just want a simple answer and that’s all. As adults, we have a tendency to provide the full backstory behind our answer. But kids usually ignore that part.
Have you ever found yourself talking to nobody because your kid is long gone after hearing the only part of the answer they needed? It’s really common.
Try to keep your answer simple and short. So if your kid asks “Who was here first, us or Native Americans?,” all you have to say is “Native Americans.”
TIP: Kids learn by processing the information we give them. The simpler the answer to their question, the easier it is for them to process the information. They don’t need any information beyond what they’re specifically asking.
Remember This Q&A on Thanksgiving
Image Credit iStockPhoto.com
While the Native American history questions and answers below are by no means exhaustive, they’ll hopefully provide a good starting point for you to respond to the inevitable awkward questions and statements that kids come up with, especially around the holidays.
1. Do Native Americans still do rain dances?
“Yes some tribes have maintained the tradition of rain dances to encourage crop growth.”
2. Did Native Americans really use smoke signals?
“Yes some tribes used smoke signals a long time ago to indicate oncoming danger. But now they get their information just like us-from TV and the Internet.”
3. Do Native Americans still live in teepees?
“No they live in houses and apartments just like us.”
4. What’s the difference between ‘American Indian,‘ ‘Native American,‘ and ‘Indigenous American‘? Which one should I use?
“‘American Indians,‘ ‘Native Americans, ‘ and ‘Indigenous Americans‘ all refer to the same people. If possible, native people prefer to be called by their tribal name, like Cherokee or Apache. Otherwise, use ‘Native American.’”
5. Is there anything I can do to help Native Americans?
“What you’re doing right now is really valuable. Asking questions and learning the truth about Native Americans is enormously helpful.”
6. How did Native Americans get to the Americas?
“Native Americans came either by foot over a land bridge or by using ancient boats. They were here centuries before Christopher Columbus.”
7. Why don’t Native Americans like sports teams with Indian mascots?
“Because defining an entire human population with one word (like Redskins) is racist and hurtful.”
8. Can Native Americans vote?
9. What’s a reservation?
“When European immigrants arrived in America, they moved the Native Americans to patches of land called reservations.“
10. Do all Native Americans live on reservations?
“No. More than half of Native Americans now live in urban environments.“
11. What do modern Indian Reservations look like?
“It varies. Some reservations are ultra-modern cities and other reservations are poverty-stricken and still struggling. “
12. What’s a pow wow?
“A pow wow is a social gathering that honors cultural traditions like dancing and drumming. “
13. What’s a papoose?
“A Native American child. “
14. Why do Native Americans wear feathers?
“Eagles are considered sacred and many tribes view eagle feathers as one of the highest symbols of respect. “
15. Why are Native Americans called Indians?
“Christopher Columbus was lost when he came to America and thought he was in India.“
16. Do Native Americans celebrate Thanksgiving?
“Some do and some don’t.“
17. What kind of food do Native Americans like?
“Traditional Native Americans crops generally included corn, beans, and squash. But now they eat the same food as you and me.“
18. What’s a totem pole?
“A totem pole is a tall sculpture, usually carved from a single tree. Totem poles were mainly carved by tribes in the Pacific Northwest, and usually included numerous faces.“
That should get you started. You could bookmark this page so you’re ready for the holidays. Just an idea!
- How to Teach Your Kids About Native American History
- 7 Must-Have Tips for Answering Your Children’s Toughest Questions
- How to Tell Kids the True Story of Native Americans
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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Photo credit: iStockPhoto.com