Talking Truth About Columbus

Smithsonian Magazine: Through the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NYC and DC), Smithsonian Magazine shares “Indigenous Peoples’ Day: Rethinking How We Celebrate American History,” which traces the holiday from the first documented observance of Columbus Day in 1792 and the 1934 official recognition as a holiday in 1937, the first time it was made a federal holiday in 1972, and the U.N. response with Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 1977. They work through the mythology of Columbus and the states and municipalities that have transitioned from Columbus to Native Americans.

Honest History: Education Post argues that it’s not enough to ignore Columbus. We not only need to address it, but should “teach only truth”—teach about both Columbus and Indigenous People, while talking about Indigenous People today. The article makes several suggestions for teachers and families. 

The Columbus Day Problem: In a detailed post with veteran history teacher and director of the Harvard Teacher Fellows program, Harvard’s Graduate School of Education shares activities and resources for an age-appropriate understanding of the day.

Time Magazine’s Parenting Section has an article focused on talking to children about life in the Americas before Columbus, including ideas appropriate for elementary-aged children. 

For Middle School Families: Teaching Tolerance has a lesson plan posted for students in sixth through eighth grades. This can be a ready resource in contacting social studies teachers, or adapted to do at home. 

Saratoga Specifically: “Saratoga” is an Anglicized version of the Mohawk “se-rach-ta-gue,” or “hillside country of the quiet river.” If you want imagery or specifics about Indigenous life in Saratoga after colonization, the blog “Iroquois Beadwork” has stereographs, photographs and ephemera of Native encampments and participation in tourism at the turn of the twentieth century.