Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: Native Americans, American Indians - Sitting Bull

This HBO movie treated the American Indians issue in a sensitive, correct manner. I learned a lot about their history. This film has touching moments and great acting. I do recommend it. Sitting Bull was a very important character in American history and I often have to talk about Indians in the classroom. This activity is for this purpose.

A. Work in small groups. Read the statements below about American Indians and decide whether they are (M) myths or (F) facts. The information was taken from this great site:

1. ( ) American Indians and Alaska Natives are a similar group of people who share a common language and culture and live together in similar places.

2. ( ) The United States government recognizes more than 300 American Indian tribes. 
Each has its own particular history, value system, government, language, and social ties that bind it together as a distinct people.

3. ( ) All American Indians and Alaskan Natives live on reservations.

4. ( ) Nationwide, about 50 percent of the Indian population is classified as urban. Rural Indians are those who choose to live in nonmetropolitan areas, on or off reservations. In 1980 only 25 percent of American Indians lived on reservations (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1989).

5. ( ) American Indians and Alaska Natives receive checks from the government just because they are Indian.

6. ( ) Funds received from the government are earnings from Indian lands or other Indian resources. Education, health services, and other benefits are provided in treaties made with the United States government. These benefits are payments for American Indian and Alaskan Native lands.

7. ( ) The existing legal status of American Indians, their people, and their governments is the product of accepted principles of international law and equity.

8. ( ) The "superior" right of European immigrants is based on the racist notion that Native peoples are savages. This myth, perhaps the most damaging of all, serves to excuse injustices done to Native peoples.

9. ( ) Indians are a defeated people.

10. ( ) Courts have defined Indians as a "defeated" people. Most Indian tribal groups were not, in fact, defeated through armed combat. In most cases, the relationship with the federal government resulted from approximately 400 treaties signed with the United States government prior to 1871. The terms of these treaties remain in effect today.

11. ( ) The "Allotment Act" (the Dawes Act of 1887) was passed to civilize American Indians by making them private property owners.

12. ( ) The Act was supposed to change Indians into European-type farmers. Private ownership, however, was contrary to the traditional Indian concept of shared ownership. Quite often, the land given to Indians was not suited to farming. Indians received no training, no equipment, and no supplies with which to take up the unfamiliar occupation. "Surplus" Indian lands (often of better quality) were sold to settlers.

13. ( ) Thanksgiving is a day of rejoicing that marks the advent of a mutually beneficial relationship between European settlers and Native peoples (see Ramsey, 1979).

14. ( ) The "First Thanksgiving" stories were actually created in the 1890s and early 1900s to promote the "melting pot" theory of social progress (Larsen, 1987). They are substantially inaccurate (Valdes, 1986). Today, the ethnocentric image of Thanksgiving is reinforced extensively in the media, by religious groups, and other social institutions.

Answer Key - Odd items are myths and even items are facts.

B. This is Sitting Bull, one of the most famous and important American Indian in history. Work in your groups and try to guess the correct answers for the items below. The winner is the group that scores most points.

1) Sitting Bull's original name was:

a - Tatanka Iyotake

b - Kataka Kus

 c- Lamantaka Kakatoke

2. He became notable because of:

a - His major role in the victory at the battle of Little Bighorn.

b - His stubbornness to live in the USA for the rest of his life.

c - His fight to defend the American territory against British and Canadian soldiers.

3 - He died:

a - of old age

b - with a shot in the head

c - when he was making a speech to protect the Indians.

4 - Sitting Bull belong to this tribe:

a - Navajo

b - Mohave

c - Sioux

5 - He was born in what is now:

a - South Dakota

b- Montana

c - New Mexico

6 - Sitting Bull was forced to leave his territory because:

a- White people wanted the land because of gold

b - White people wanted the land because of oil

c - White people wanted the land because of diamonds

7. Sitting Bull lived for many years in:

a - Mexico

b - California

c - Canada

8. He also worked as a:

a - Teacher

b - Performer

c - Hunter

Answer Key:
1. a
2. a
3. b
4. c
5. a
6. a
7. c
8. b

The quiz was based on the site below:Spectrum Biographies

C. Watch the scene below and answer the questions that follow:

1. Describe the scene.

2. What did Sitting Bull request?

3. What did the white soldier request?

4. Why didn't Sitting Bull accept his request?

5. What is white people's view of history, according to the scene?

6. What's Sitting Bull's view of history, according to the scene?

7. Did they reach an agreement? What will happen next?

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