US textbooks share more native American fantasy than JK Rowling

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That was a fantastic read and entirely, sadly, too true. Thanks for sharing.


So you’re saying they can’t actually paint with all the colors of the wind?


Yeah, Rowling. Keep up!

42 thumbs up to Simon Moya-Smith! :thumbsup: :clap:


I’m in my early 40’s I was never taught that Native Americans* cast magic spells. I was taught that quite a few still existed. I was taught that historically speaking some used to live/travel build Teepees, but their were a variety of living structures used by a variety of tribes. I read contemporary stories underscoring the difficulties facing modern day Native Americans* written by Native Americans*.

*I have since learned that “Native American” is kind of a shitty term as American refers to an egotistical map-maker. Personally I always preferred referring to each individual tribe or nation by the name they chose, but if you must lump them together indigenous people seems to be the preferred moniker. Also most “indians” I’ve met were white people claiming to have some quantum of native blood because it justified their moccasin fetish or their desire to wear t-shirts with wolves printed on them.

I don’t know what schools y’all were going to.


the quality of schools and their instruction varies from state to state, city to city, and even school district to school district. Some do a much shittier job of teaching good history than others. The poorer (and usually, the ruraler), the more likely to have dated and inaccurate (even racist) information in history classes. Not everyone is lucky enough to go to a good school, I’m afraid.


Not my comment, but a friend of mine put it quite well: “It’s been an absolute treat watching Americans go absolutely mental at JK Rowling for treating their culture exactly how they treat everyone else’s.”


OTOH, few colonialism-based societies are much better in this respect.

To summarise the tiny amount of “education” I had in school regarding Australian Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders: “Captain Cook discovered Terra Australis and then the British founded Australia. There were some black people here already, who had silly fairy stories they called the Dreamtime. Occasionally they stole cattle, so we had to shoot them.”

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As a resident of Western NY state I can say with confidence that the grade school education I received about Native Americans was realistic in terms of not depicting the indigenous peoples of the area as magic practicing savages who lived in tepees. It was however much more focused on the local Iroquois Nations and left me with the SCOOM acronym for remembering the nations from west to east (Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, and Mohawk), the Three Sisters (Corn, Beans, Squash) and Longhouse dwellings. There was probably also some discussion of Lacross. Oh, and the French & Indian wars of course. The rest of the country’s native population? Well I learned about them from popular media, so those were all tepee dwelling buffalo hunters.


No argument there, mate. Everybody has room for improvement. Personally - and I’ll admit to some bias though I think it still holds true - we idolize European culture and history far too much, especially compared to our own, especially Indigenous history. It’s getting better, but it should have been as it is now 20 years ago, if not better again.

Doesn’t mean the Americans aren’t being quite hypocritical about it, of course - It’s a big, wide world, and there’s room for everyone to be fucking awful.


Thinking about it, my schooling oddly mostly ignored the existence of Native Americans. I say oddly, because my state has one of the largest populations of them. What we did learn was mostly fair, though, and contained both the good and the bad (in the colonialism, imperialistic sense, I.e. the terrible things the government did).

If we expand “education” past the institutional, though, this article is spot on. The media is still in love with the “magical Indian”. We’re constantly taught that they have a magical connection to nature, and have some flavor of shamanistic mojo. When, in fact, most of the Native Americans I’ve met have been kinda ordinary people, like everyone else. Though with the added benefit that their " real culture" has been crushed by a shitty fake one (noble savages is still alive and well).

That said, fictionalizing real beliefs is fine and dandy, if it’s done deliberately for fiction. It’s very common, and can create some good art. Sure, some idiots might buy fiction to be reality, but you can’t control for them.

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The more stories you learn about aboriginal peoples (worldwide, not just in the Americas), the more stories you learn of European explorers and colonists being stupid, violent, selfish, hypocritical assholes.

…which is embarrassing to the European colonists’ descendants, the curriculum planners.


I generally joke that the real lesson of history is learning “Yes, you really are the bad guy of world history”. This doesn’t just apply to us, it pretty much is the universal statement for all human cultures, at least at some point of their history.


I must have missed it. I mean I haven’t read Harry Potter or her latest book. I was aware of the books (all of them) never heard anyone getting upset about them (other than typical fundie christians screaming about witchcraft).

It’s related to her latest book - it’s a series of short stories about the history of magic in America, which is related to her newest, “Fantastic Beasts and where to Find them”.

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