ActiveHistory.ca repost – Indigenous History in the Classroom: Four Principles, Four Questions

ActiveHistory.ca is on a two-week hiatus, but we’ll be back with new content in early September. During the hiatus, we’re featuring some of our most popular blog posts from this site over the past five years and some of the editors’ favourite posts from the past year. Thanks as always to our writers and readers – see you again in September!

The following post was originally featured on November 18, 2013.

By Carolyn Podruchny 

Is teaching Indigenous history any different than teaching other histories? This question was posed to organizers of a day-long Teaching History Symposium on history, heritage, and education for Toronto area public school teachers, heritage experts, graduate students, and faculty members in the History Department at York University.[1] Rather than providing an answer, I suggest more questions to consider, and principles to guide decisions about teaching Indigenous history. I suspect that methods employed in teaching Indigenous histories can serve as a model for teaching about the histories of all peoples in the past.

I am a historian of Indigenous peoples and French colonists on the land that came to be known as Canada, and I specialize widely in histories of Anishinaabe, Cree, and Metis. I teach courses that are specific to Indigenous histories and general early Canadian or early North American histories that happen to include a majority of material that concerns Indigenous peoples. I do not have any Indigenous heritage myself, and I recognize my past as a descendent of Ukrainian immigrants on the Canadian prairies. I have benefitted from the system of colonialism implemented by the Canadian government, which dispossessed Indigenous peoples. My grandparents farmed on Cree, Anishinaabe, and Metis lands in western Manitoba (outside of Ethelbert and Ozerna); I grew up in Selkirk, Manitoba on the site of a former Anishinaabe community, the Peguis Band, which was relocated 160 km north in 1907.[2] Today I live on Mississauga land (in the town of Oakville), and I want to recognize that York University occupies lands that were once home to Mississaugas, other Anishinaabeg, Wendats, and Eries.[3]

Why am I acknowledging my ethnic heritage and history, and why do I remark on the past owners of the lands on which I live and work? I do so for three reasons.

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