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I have moved from the Deep South to Seattle Washington. There are a great many things that I have had to adjust to: weather, a commute without freeways, a library system that is well funded… but the cultural differences are probably the hardest things to adjust to! Did you know that in the Pacific North West pedestrians get right of way? There has been many a time when I have stood there as a driver has slowed to park, not knowing what I’m meant to do at that moment in that intersection…

Wanted_poster_Christopher_Columbus

One of the really exciting things to adjust to is here in Seattle, Monday is not “Columbus Day” the Puget Sound instead celebrates Indigenous People’s Day! However, having just come from Texas I am well aware that far too many places in the US still celebrate the original  conquistador’s day, so I thought I’d direct readers to a few different resources for educational tools with a more honest look at what Columbus’ arrival to these continents meant.

First I’d like to direct people to a couple of online resources maintained by indigenous/First Nation/American Indian people:

American Indiana’s in Children’s Literature is a resource I have had on my links page for years and they have a number for blog posts about useful books and resources to engage young minds with more accurate ideas about Columbus. Such as Picture Books About Christopher Columbus and Bonnie Bader’s WHO WAS CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS, but those two posts are only just scratching the surface. If you have time I highly recommend spending sometime and digging into all the many useful reviews and resources American Indian’s in Children’s Literature has to offer.

The next website I want to refer you to is Indian Country Today Media Network, which is a great website to check if you want to stay current on American Indian issues. They have a great list of 9 Teaching Resources That Teach the Truth About Columbus that is multimedia and very well rounded. They also have a number of news articles, since that’s the #1 thing they do. So with an older child, or while reading along and with discussion questions prepared, you might want to read the article’s they published about passing Indigenous People’s Day in Portland or Seattle to engage young people in your life about these ideas.

Next here are two progressive sources that have teaching resources about Columbus Day:

Teaching Tolerance is a project done by the Southern Poverty law Center. They have created a list Reconsider Columbus Day that has a number of different resources- from reading first hand accounts of colonialism, to putting Columbus on a mock trail-  you could use to engage young people to think critically about Columbus Day.

There’s also the Zinn Project’s collection of resources on critical thinking about Columbus. They have articles about the Indigenous People’s Day movement, social media campaigns, a more formal book list called Columbus Day… Time to Break The Silence, and many online resources.

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cote castle (1)This book was recommended to me by a fellow rad librarian, and dear hoomie, please check out her blog!

She thought this book would be a good way to have conversations with young readers about colonization. I completely agree!

The story is of Mr. King, who lives on the top of a hill and wants to have a HUGE castle. To build his castle he takes the land from all around his hill to make the building blocks. But you see, the thing is, there were tons of animals living in that forest! And by taking all that he wanted from the land around him he took away everyone else’s home.

Now where this book differs from real life colonization is that the other animals are able to talk to Mr. King about how his stealing their land is bad for them. And how it REALLY differs from real life is Mr. King sees the error in his ways, and together they dismantle Mr. King’s Castle and restore the land back to how it was.

So I think this book would be useful for people who have political leanings towards solidarity, mutual healing, and coalition building. You could have conversations about what colonizers need to know, and dream about ideas of how together we build a new world. This book could be paired very well with a literal and/or historical book about colonization to give the youngsters more tangible ideas of what colonization is and has been; to further a fruitful discussion of how to apply Mr. King’s solution to real life problems.

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