Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Help, I Can't Keep Up!

Nash has an Indian fetish, like the Old-West-Tee-Pee kind of Indian.  He has a little statue of an Indian that he carries around with him everywhere.  He even dresses up like an Indian on a daily basis...
or at least his interpretation of an Indian. On several occasions he has attempted to leave the house wearing my moccasins. On Saturday he asked a woman at Atley's soccer game if she was an Indian. She nicely replied, "No, honey I am from Iran not India!"  Thoroughly confused, he thankfully walked away without further arugument. 

When my kids become interested in something of value, I do what most moms would do. I try to teach them more about it.  So, we headed to the National Museum of the American Indian on Monday afternoon.  We talked about how the Indians whom Nash is so intrigued by should be called Native Americans, not to be confused with people from India.  We talked about the Cherokee and the Trail of Tears.  We talked about reservations and the Indian Pueblos in New Mexico that we see when we travel to Colorado. By the time we parked and I was putting money in the meter. I was pretty impressed by my little history lesson.  I must say I was patting myself on the back as we walked into the museum. The boys, especially Nash, were fascinated. Nash silently watched all of the videos.   
He made Atley or me read him everything.  He loved the costumes and the stories.  And I just kept getting more and more puffed up with pride about my superb mothering skills.  Then we heard drums and chanting coming from the main gallery.  We headed over  to watch the program.  It turned out to be mostly a question/answer session with one of the museum's curators.  Atley raised his hand to ask a question. I felt a little queasy.  I tried to get him to tell me what the question was, perhaps I could answer it for him.  He resisted. I then tried to physically put his arm down before anyone could see. He resisted even more.  I could feel the beads of sweat forming on my brow. This was a packed room of people with very few children except my own.  What could he possibly need to ask?  Well, then it happend. The microphone was passed to my son and I thought I would pass out for fear of the world's most embarassing question.  He bravely and articulately asked, "Can you guesstimate how many Native Americans live in the Washington D.C. area?"  Oh, that wasn't so bad. I wiped the sweat from my brow and patted his leg with motherly pride.  Wow, I was an amazing parent!! Just look at these intelligent and culturally aware children I am raising.  BUT,  the curator replied with, "Were you born in the United States?"  Atley, "Yes!"  Curator, "Well, then aren't you a Native American."  Atley, "Huh?"  Curator, "Please don't refer to us as Native Americans, we are the American Indian."  WHAT!!!  Apparently, I need to educate myself a bit more before trying to teach my children anything.  Sorry, if I cannot keep up with what is politically correct. Apparently, it changes like the weather.  I am sure there was an audible hiss as my "Great Parent Bubble" slowly deflated. The funny thing is the 200 or so people who were also there looked at us like, "Duh! Everyone knows that!"  Come on people. The truth is, you would have used the exact same terminology.  You didn't have a clue either.  Now you are all just overcome with gratitude towards your six year old scapegoat.  

1 comment:

Melinda said...

Last time I was at that museum...the curator told us that they don't like to be called "American Indians" or "Native Americans." She said that we need to use the word that they use for themselves, which is, "The People."