Native American Culture for Thanksgiving


I have mixed feelings about this time of year. On the one hand, I love my family and I’m flying about 40 hours round trip from Santiago and back just to spend a few days with them. I have SO much to be thankful for. On the other hand, I’ve spent most of my career working on American Indian reservations so my feelings about the whole “let’s celebrate the Indians helping the pilgrims” is kind of ambivalent because I know how that worked out for the Indians.

View of lake from top of a hill
It’s pretty, but … from traveling the plains to small reservations

This month, though, I am super thankful because we finished Making Camp Lakota, a game that teaches math (division) in Lakota and English, as well as about Lakota history and culture. I’m always happy when we finish a game but this one was particularly special, and I didn’t really even work on it, because I was in Chile. I’m thankful to have helped build a company where we can simultaneously produce software that can aid in revitalizing a language and make knowledge of the culture available to anyone with an Internet connection.

We also finished Making Camp Premium, which teaches Ojibwe history and culture, so if you have $1.99 and want to brush up on your math and English skills along with history, check it out. You (your kids) can learn how Native Americans lived. As Jose Gonzalez said,

History is more than names and dates. It’s how people lived.

If I’d had more history teachers like him, I’d be thankful for them, but I didn’t, so I’m not.

If you’re too cheap to shell out a $1.99 but still want to learn about the Ojibwe, you can play Fish Lake: Beginnings on your iPad. It’s pretty fun. What’s up with that, anyway, you can shell out $400 for an iPad but you don’t have two bucks for an app – because, reasons?

In all seriousness, one of the things I’m super thankful for this year is the opportunity to work on products that matter, teaching math, teaching English and opening up the world in new and different ways, whether it is Making Camp Bilingual so children in the U.S. and Chile can be exposed to more English, or Making Camp Lakota, so people can learn about how the Lakota lived and hear their language.

Whether it’s math, language or history, in Santa Monica or Santiago, I get to work on opening up a wider world for children. That’s something to be thankful for.

Incredibly, this IS my day job.

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