The Passed Note Issue 1 June 2016 - Page 29

stand the sadness my mother felt when I was young, swimming in my grandmother’s pool.

First Nation Peoples have a history of disappearing, of being decimated by foreigners and governments, of being rendered invisible in textbooks, of being marginalized to the point of erasure. Indian Country, an online media network released an article, “All Indians are Dead.” It points out the American populace’s lack of education on Native history. The article exposes the fact that 87 percent of references to American Indians are pre-1900.

This sends a message. A message that soon after the 20th century, Natives ceased to exist. Our schools aren’t teaching America’s children about the Trail of Tears or about Indian Boarding Schools anymore. Natives are reduced to a section of history, relegated to the role of savage in film.

If we aren’t teaching history, if we are glossing over a past deemed inappropriate for the world’s greatest nation, if we have regulated Native culture to a time in history and left modern representation up to Halloween costumes, did Richard Pratt succeed in his goal to “kill the Indian, save the man?”

I remember being Brown and watching Peter Pan, a coming of age story. I remember being enamored with a child’s ability to fly, to evacuate a world of fear to one of whimsy and freedom. I remember being Brown and being torn as I watched characters with Red skin represent people like my mother. Watching as they sang, “What Makes the Red Man Red?”

I remember watching as cartoon characters made a mockery of the culture my mother treasured, as they demanded the squaw fetch firewood, dancing around a fire in broken English—savages.

It’s easy to remain ignorant to something you’ve never been taught. It is easy to lack empathy for a people most Americans only