Sunday, September 23, 2007

Takaki Ch 4- Forcible Removal

The 4th Chapter of "A Different Mirror" provided some really great material for engaging students while teaching about the how early American leaders handled the "Native American problem." One of the most apt analogies I continued to think of as I read through was the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, but that's only the beginning.

My lesson would focus on the forcible removal of the Native Americans from the land that was rightfully theirs, and what strategies were employed to move them off of their lands and force them into reservations, out of the way of the "beloved white" country as Ben Franklin hoped for. To start my lesson on this chapter I would put a series of statements on the board that begin with "they were...." and then have many descriptions such as "given monetary compensation in order to evacuate their own land", "forced into small communities that were segregated from the ruling race", "moved to make way for economic development of the elites", "forced to evacuate their land despite the economic contributions they were and could have continued to make to their country." Students would then be asked who they thought these statements applied to? Because of the reading and the unit we are on, students should logically guess Native Americans. But then I will write the following things on the board: Native Americans, Palestinians in Israeli territory, Jews during WWII, immigrants in American cities today. I will then explain how many of these statements actually apply to all of these groups. I think these parallels would allow students to better understand what was done to the Native Americans as a historical pattern and not an isolated event in American history.

In the lesson I will follow this up with a more specific case study of two comparisons- immigrants today and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. I will discuss the different strategies that have been used with these 4 groups (Native Americans, immigrants in America today, Israelis and Palestinians) to separate them, to make way for economic development, to "homogenize" society, etc...

Also I think it is important to discuss a few other things within this lesson/ unit. The concept that land can not be substituted, that Native Americans had a connection to their land just like Jews, Muslims, and Christians all have a connection to Jerusalem. It is not sufficient to offer them other land that is not rich in their own tradition and history. We will also talk about a common theme in Takaki so far, how the elites have once again tried to turn the minority against each other so that they didn't unite against the elite.

I think this could make a very interesting and engaging lesson but could also be expanded to a larger unit.

No comments: