When we started 7 Generation Games, our lead cultural consultant, Dr. Erich Longie, told me that the solution was to include Native American culture as part of math, and vice versa.
As he said to a student,
“Of course our ancestors used math! We were a nomadic people! Do you think that they just rode horses around in an area of thousands of miles across the plains and ran into each other by accident?”
It was such a good lecture that it became a video in Fish Lake with a young girl asking her grandfather about how her ancestors managed to meet up without a GPS or Google maps.
Erich thinks I don’t listen to his rants, but I do!
Today, we were talking about how Native American culture could be incorporated in the curriculum. His argument, which I bought into completely, was that culture doesn’t need to be added on, that a knowledgable person could incorporate it into any subject. He gave this example:
“Once as as sub I was asked to teach a lesson on health, I began with ‘Why were our ancestors lean and mean instead of chubby and lazy?’ It was because of their diet. They ate berries. They ate buffalo meat, which is low in fat.They either walked everywhere or they rode horses. As a result of this lifestyle, they had few of the diseases we see today. No one had diabetes. Now, that is the exact health lesson we are teaching in health class. What do we teach? A healthy diet is low in fat and has a balance of protein, fruits and vegetables. A healthy lifestyle includes regular exercise. I’m able to integrate culture in that lesson easily not because I read one book about Indians but because I have read, literally, hundreds of them. I can integrate the culture into almost any subject, K-12 because I have the cultural knowledge.”
I interjected that it also takes time that teachers don’t have with lessons to plan, homework to grade, parents to meet, IEP meetings to attend. Erich agreed, and added
“So, the result is that we end up with the same old, tired boring textbooks and curriculum that our Indian students just tune out.”
The other option is to develop a fully integrated K-8 curriculum. Until that happens, we have made a start with our games. We also have a few dozen videos on culture and math at our 7 Generation Games youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/7GenerationGames/playlists
Feel free to use any you find helpful.