A Lesson Change In American History

By: Lindsey Ward Email
By: Lindsey Ward Email

October 19, 2007

Local leaders took a closer look at Friday's joint city council and school board meeting.

The Lewis and Clark statue and its portrayal of Sacagawea has raised some concerns recently on exactly how this community views Native Americans. Charlottesville City Mayor said he's determined to find out and he's starting with what kids are learning about natives in city classrooms.

“How do we portray Native American life in Charlottesville and what are our kids learning in school,” asked Mayor Brown.

The Columbus Day Protest at the statue spotlighted what demonstrators say is an inaccurate depiction of Sacagawea. They argue she's portrayed in a weakened, fearful state.

Soon after, they took their concerns to Charlottesville City Council, the mayor listened, and already change could be on the way.

Mayor Brown has started looking into what can be done to educate locals on a more truthful history, and he's starting in the classroom.

“As a community how do we represent the Native American experience and what can the city do to make sure everyone kind of has a broad and more thoughtful appreciation of that experience,” said Mayor Brown.

At Friday's joint city council and school board meeting a Charlottesville High School teacher gave a run down of exactly what students are learning about Native Americans.

“One would hope that when they're studying Virginia and U.S. History they learn about everything that's important to our city, our region, our state and of course Native American is an important part of that,” said Katherine Prather, CHS History Teacher.

After listening to her presentation, the mayor suggested teachers could go a little more in-depth and also localize those Native American history lessons and hopefully that will start a small change.

One suggestion from today's meeting is possibly getting students involved in creating a more native friendly city art project.

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