MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Kenny Lone Eagle thinks it’s time America’s school children learned enough about the real Native American culture and history that they don’t still think most of them live in teepees and hunt buffalo with bows and arrows.
Lone Eagle’s adoptive father, Chief White Eagle, acted in several western films and claimed to have been killed seven times by John Wayne. For most American school children, that’s about the extent of their knowledge of Native American history, and Lone Eagle wants to change that.
Recently appointed to the Indiana Native American Indian Affairs Commission, Lone Eagle is bringing Native American history and culture to school superintendents. He recently met with a group of them in Starke County and spoke to leaders of schools in Lake and Porter counties on Wednesday in Merrillville at the group’s monthly meeting.
“I’m just trying to get them on board with teaching Native American history so more is taught than is in the schools now,” he told The Times of Munster. “A superintendent said they don’t know where to start or how to address the name Native American in the schools. I want to turn this whole ship around so kids can understand where we came from.”
Originally from Gary but now living in Knox, Lone Eagle said he is of Osage and Iroquois stock, but he’s not on a crusade to eliminate the use of team nicknames referring to Native Americans that many consider racist.
“I’m going to let them know I don’t plan to rock the boat. The important thing is to teach people that we are in society and we don’t live in a teepee. I want to try to break the ice, and it starts in the schools.”
He said he has the other members of the commission behind him, and funding is available for schools to teach the other side of American history. Other ethnic groups that have come to America have had their history and culture added to the curricula, but Native Americans still are overlooked, he said.
“The schools I’ve talked to so far are starving for an idea,” he said. “They say ‘Give us an idea of what we can do.’ People are afraid to talk to a Native American. They don’t know what to do, so they clam up. If we introduce it properly, we can get these people to turn it around so there is more education on our people. I am for scholarships and such, so people know more about American history. We’ve forgotten our basic history.”
Highland Schools Superintendent Brian Smith is chairman of the superintendents study advisory group for Lake and Porter counties and said the group has vendors and others who sometimes speak to them. Lone Eagle’s request to address the group definitely found a sympathetic ear in Smith.
“Before I got into administration, I was a history teacher,” he said.
Information from: The Times, http://www.thetimesonline.com
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