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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

True Americans 

I did an activity today where students broke up into 4 groups: Christians, Muslims, Jews, and the indigenous peoples of the Americas. They created the story of each group based on what we’ve learned in our course Cultures of Spain. 

Then they formed new groups with one Christian, one Jew, one Muslim and one indigenous person. Each had to tell their story in the first person. For instance: “In 711 we crossed the Straits of Gibraltar and arrived at the Iberian Peninsula, etc.”

I wanted to see who would start speaking first in each group, or whose perspective is the privileged one. And what do you think? Every group started with the narrative of the indigenous Americans. 

This is really interesting to me because, to be honest, I would have automatically started with the Christians, even though I am well aware that it makes no sense even from a Euro-centric perspective. 

This was a really cool activity. 

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7 thoughts on “True Americans 

  1. Does this reflect a greater emphasis on Native American narrative in public education?

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  2. “Every group started with the narrative of the indigenous Americans”

    Makes perfect sense to me. Not sure why, exactly, but it does….

    It’s probably due to some degree of New World-centricity and/or romanticization of Native Americans.

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  3. As a Spanish, I am surprised: Christian or Muslims would be my choice as they were established way before Native Americans came to picture in history (of Spain). As a third option Jews, just because I don’t think they outnumbered the other two.

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  4. Maybe the inclusion of Native Americans made students think of this in terms of Latin America (where it would make sense to describe the indigenous population first).

    If I were thinking of this as a Spain-centric excercise I’d present each group chronologically (group with the oldest history w/Spain first, newest history last). Unless I’m mistaken that would be Jews, Christians, Muslims and Native Americans in that order.

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  5. Americans, would always put Native Americans first because they were first here chronologically … so if it is a question of stories, ordering stories, theirs would be first unless you were consciously deciding to order from another point of view. In the 3d grade we learned about California Indians, in the fourth California history after colonization, in the 5th US history starting with the Iroquois Federation, in the 6th Latin American history, which again started with Native Americans. In the 7th grade, European history and it started with the Lascaux caves and so on. Indigenous people are always at the beginning of things.

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