For Native Americans, education is the key to breaking down stereotypes
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Jerry Martin demonstrates a Native American musical instrument Sept. 17 during Native American Heritage education days at Town of Delavan Community Park. Dan Plutchak/WalworthCountyToday.com.
DELAVAN TOWNSHIP — Jerry Martin knows the outdated images of Native Americans are hard to shake even today because he often hears them from children and adults.
“They think (Native Americans) all look like Tonto,” said Martin, referring to the Indian companion of the Lone Ranger, a popular TV Western from the 1950s. “Or a big myth is that Native American men buy their wives.”
Martin was at Town of Delavan Community Park along Delavan Lake last month for Native American Heritage Days, a two-day intertribal powwow open to the public. A Wildwood, Ill., resident, Martin said his family history indicates a link with the Ojibwe tribe. As a presenter at an educational program open only to area school groups, he displayed and discussed a variety of Indian artifacts and tools, like a ceremonial bison jawbone.
“Kids are amazed because we have artifacts that have been in families for generations, were passed on and are still useable,” said Vicki Bostic, a coordinator for the education day and a member of the Chippewa tribe — also known as Ojibwe — who lives in Round Lake, Ill.
The program featured presenters from a number of different tribes who discussed Native American history, culture and spirituality. As part of the event, teachers from the school groups were given CDs with suggested ways to combat anti-Indian bias in schools. A librarian was also available to suggest books and DVDs for further class discussion.
“We’re still stereotyped as living in teepees and riding around on horses because that’s the way it’s portrayed in the history books and on TV,” Bostic said. “But we’re in fields like education and health care today. We’re not the scary group that runs around and scalps you.”
Read the full story in the Oct. 3, 2010 e-edition of Walworth County Sunday, HERE.