Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Response to Last Post

I apologize to anyone that I may have offended by my last post.  This was not my intention.  I have removed it from the blog reluctantly and was very upset at the reaction/comments from a few readers.

 This blog was created as a resource to teachers and educators. First Nations culture is a very important component of the elementary curriculum and art projects help to reinforce this.  To me this was no different than when I teach Pysanky(Ukrainian), Wycinanki (Polish), Tapas(South Pacific), Wayang Kulit(Indonesian), etc, etc, etc. 

If we want to encourage our youth to develop an understanding of the culture, art, history and the profound significance First Nations have on our country's identity we need to be willing to share it.  I was not trying to exploit it only trying to encourage students/kids from Canada and around the world to try creating some of their own artwork in this style to foster education, understanding, compassion, and a connection with this part of our country's heritage.


  1. I enjoyed the subject of your last post. I thought it was a great jumping off point to understanding another culture. I'm sorry that you felt the need to remove it.

  2. Sorry to hear this. I thought it was a very interesting post and was looking forward to the next one.

  3. i appreciate your interest in the culture but the information you presented was inaccurate or false. You have a copyright notice on your website that no one can take your work without your authorization, and yet you are doing the same thing. Which Haida person did you work with that shared their knowledge with you? Just because our culture doesn't have 'copyrights' built into it doesn't mean that its everyone's for the taking. Its like writing a blog post on how to speak Japanese when you don't know the language.

  4. Well, I totally missed whatever it was that ticked others off. Personally, I think if others found it offensive, but you yourself don't think you did anything wrong, then you should put that post right back where it was and tell them to grow up.

    We can't all agree all the time. They can either deal with the fact that you've got some ideas they don't like, or they can go somewhere where their precious eyes won't have to read something they dislike. At least, that's how *I* do things. Judging by the wording of this post, I'd say the topic was one that would probably annoy me, but I'm grown up enough not to think your blog exists just to please me. Put it back!

  5. I appreciate your swift response in removing the post.

    I totally agree that First Nations culture should be an important part of the elementary and high school curriculum. Unfortunately, most non-Aboriginal teachers don't know how to teach it with authentic respect to protocol, tradition and the realities of being Aboriginal in a colonized, occupied land.

    Teachers, the media and non-Aboriginal canadians in general often white-wash or ignore entirely the reality of the residential school system and ignore the Indian Act which literally aimed to "kill the Indian in the child." (the last residential school wasn't closed until 1996 -

    White people began becoming "expert" artists of NWC art while teaching at residential schools where they were also (often violently) forbidding children and youth from speaking their own language or practicing their cultures and traditions. This is also true for anthropologists, who unapologetically have appropriated from a culture that they were participating in colonizing.

    "If we want to encourage our youth to develop an understanding of the culture, art, history and the profound significance First Nations have on our country's identity we need to be willing to share it." - Most definitely, but do it with honesty and not appropriation or ignoring the profound - largely negative - impact that this western culture has had on our Aboriginal people. Invite Aboriginal elders, youth and artists to do it instead of you and thank them graciously and humbly for the land you occupy.

  6. Well said Julie.

    Cindy - it's time to unpack your backpack. take a look at this:

  7. Oh my dear, i have missed your previous post..what was the matter?? actually i am also going to be an educationist, i am a student of University & doing my post graduation in i think the topic will be interesting & informative for me..hmmm..but i have missed..keep sharing nice ideas, by the way these days i am doing my lesson plans in university & delivering lectures on different topics, its cool to perform as a teacher..!

  8. ps - Gail, it is clear to me that you are a well intentioned individual and I believe that you want to promote cultural awareness.

    Just remember, it's not the intent that affects people, it's the impact. I encourage you to continue learning about Aboriginal cultures and respectfully sharing links to Aboriginal artists and history. I believe you can affect positive change if you are well informed.

  9. So I guess we will really be restricting what we can teach our children now. I can’t teach the style of the Renaissance master because I am not Italian, or Impressionism because French is not my culture or fortheloveofpete, art from the Australian Aborigines as I am neither Aborigine OR Austrailian!! The only way these art forms can be explored is by bringing in a guest blogger with ties to that culture? How will that work inthe classroom? We cannot explore an art form that ties into a current class subject because I am not the right culture?
    commenting as anon as i am having some profile issues. sherry

  10. I am saddened by any negative response to the blogger's intent to share some artistic knowledge with her audience (me).

    We can never be perfect; we can never be certain who will be offended; we can never see where one person's or group's boundaries begin and end;

    but we can be gracious, understanding and helpful to each other rather than critical.

  11. Ontheroad - if we never engaged critical thinking, most humans would still believe the world is flat.

    The comments were intended to inspire healthy thought provocation which they clearly have. Gail wanted to share teachings and this is what is happening. It just so happens that the history behind Aboriginal art is not neutral or pleasant, so if one wishes to engage with it, one must be prepared to face the realities of it.

    Sherry - there is a big difference between teaching richly documented European art history and styles to a Euro-centric culture and teaching barely understood Aboriginal art on the occupied land of those people who are still being oppressed. There are plenty of artists available and willing to teach about their art and their culture in an honest and non-exoticising way.

    This is not about restriction, this is about opening up dialogue and teaching the truth, not the imaginary fantasy of what we wish the truth were. Look at it this way, Aborigianl voices have been restricted for hundreds of years, perhaps it's time to listen and to include those voices.

    In regards to Australian Aboriginal art - As an art teacher, I am far removed from the culture, so the first thing I would do would be to go online and attempt to contact several Australian Aboriginal artists with a request to understand, protocol, tradition, methodology, history and how much I would owe them for an in depth consultation so as to honor their time and work.

  12. The world is a big place with many cultures that deserve further interest. In a perfect world - I would have money and time for professional consultations for every culture taught - we don't have art teachers or even music teachers at the elementary level, therefore, no money for 'consultations'. Do you not learn an art form by first imitating?
    My options are to do my best with the resources I have or to not cover the topic at all.When I exposed my kids to the art of Japanese calligraphy I showed them examples, broke down the steps best I could and allowed them to copy or create as they wished. Should i have contacted a 'professional' in Japan first? Or not allowed them to try out this beautiful art form and possibly open a whole new interest for them?

  13. First of all, I am a white male. I live and work in BC on the traditional lands of other First Nations. I'm also Ukrainian.

    I have no direct ties with Native culture, although I have several friends who are directly from those cultures. The post that was removed made me feel quite uncomfortable. It was basically a post of how-to make Native art using these shapes and colours.

    It is not the fault of the author that this post made me uncomfortable, for that is my own reaction. I might also feel uncomfortable about the colour green, but that is not the fault of green.

    What I found uncomfortable was taking the topic of Native art, which pretty much anybody knows is laced deeply in cultural and spiritual references, and boiling it down to a bunch of common shapes and colours and showing how easy it can be to copy.

    Do you know WHY the colours red, black, and blue are used? Do you know what certain animals are traditionally used? Do you know the spiritual stories behind each animal? Or how to interpret the placement of the animal and spiritual references? No? Then why teach it?

    I said I was Ukrainian, and the author mentioned that she teaches Easter Egg painting. Do you know what the symbols for wheat, deer, and the cross signify? Why they are used and when they are not used? Did you know that putting an image of a deer with the cross is almost cultural blasphemy?

    That last sentence probably isn't true. But the point is, teaching people about cultural icons and art without having an inkling of understanding behind them is just not very good teaching.

  14. I have lived among the Pueblo Zuni and I have only experienced reserve when people are disrespectful. In no way did I suspect that the blogger was thus.

    And dialogue for discussion is always healthy, but indiscriminatory criticism is best left unsaid.

    Provoking guilt is not a worthy occupation.

  15. I happen to know for a fact that Gail herself is of Ukrainian heritage and has been doing that particular art form for 40 years, she learned it from her Grandma who immgrated to Canada.
    She neither gets offended or upset when a child uses the wrong symbol or a teacher with no Ukrainian background shares this art form. Her posts do not included the sometimes months of study that the students receive on the background information that supplements the art project. I get that, that's not it's purpose and I seek out other sources where needed. Remember this is her own personal blog, which I might add is free for us to access and I would hate to discourage her as her projects are greatly needed and appreciated by us teachers in the school system.

  16. Keep up the great work, Gail. I appreciate your blog.

  17. Wow, sorry Gail! There will always be people who find the negative...stay positive and continue to share your wonderful ideas.

  18. Wow! I saw the post but did not have a chance to read it. I am flabbergasted by the responses here.

    I once attended a diversity training that focused on impact over intent. I found the idea so paralyzing. I came away from the training less willing and more afraid to engage with other people and cultures different from my own for fear of the unintentional impact I might have. But then I realized that we can't control how someone interprets our actions; we can only control our intent. I have since come to believe that intent is vital and if we can approach one another openly and honestly, we can foster understanding and compassion even if there are missteps along the way. Missteps can be good opportunities to inform not inflame.

    I believe art is a great way to introduce children to cultures. Art can be one piece of an integrated curriculum. Yes, there are complex issues involved. These need to be approached in developmentally appropriate ways. It may not always be feasible to foster full comprehension of cultural history with one activity. However, in my own interactions with children, I try to be as respectful as possible and informative as possible while realizing that the activity at hand is not the only interaction or learning the children will have about the culture. Hopefully, through activities such as this they will be inspired to learn more.

  19. People need to get over themselves. Gail, you are doing a wonderful job. All art has specific meaning for every culture and if people studied it, they would know this. Even european (gasp!) artists used symbolism for the times and pictures that we often just look at as nothing but a picture actually has deep meaning for the political, religous, fill in the blank, strife that was occuring.
    You should put the post back up.

  20. I would, in turn, like to apologize to you for my initial outburst..I could have certainly phrased it better - as I see others, whose postings you have included here, did..
    I am also sorry that you removed the post 'reluctantly' because that means you don't yet realize why it's an issue..but I'm sure that, with a bit of reading and research, you'll be able to understand it more.
    Many of us here on Vancouver Island supported our Cowichan First Nations people in their fight to have the Olympics be less exploitative, and because this struggle reached a wide audience, and even the medals, themselves, wre designed with First Nations images, we were happy that finally, some respect was shown, and the Cowichan women were the ones making the sweaters with their symbols, that they are famous for, world -wide....
    I hope that you can someday understand how important it is to allow other cultures to speak, and teach, with their own voices.

  21. I read the previous post in Google Reader just now, so YAY that it was still available for me to read! And I thought it was interesting, as I had never seen ANY representation of First Nation art. In fact, I haven't really THOUGHT about there being a First Nation in Canada until this was posted.

    Since this is an "art blog", I only expect instruction in how to create art, not a thesis on the cultural, political, or religious "wherefores" of a certain topic. If the art displayed has piqued my interested, then I can, on my own, go and find more information about the origins of that art, and I am grateful when authors give me a starting point with links for me read.

    Since this is an "art blog", I do NOT expect authority on any topic other than art.

    Art, like history, is just another lens through which we can see our beautiful world.

    And I'm thankful Gail made me change my glasses.

  22. I also missed the post, but I feel after reading the comments thus far, it should be pointed out as a reminder that she is teaching children. I am not of the opinion that children should be sheltered from all things unpleasant, but in a public school setting there are definite boundaries of inappropriateness. For instance, I don't think that when introducing 7 year old students to the Art of Van Gogh, they should be given the full break down on his very hard, painful, and altogether heartbreaking life. Nor do I think this fact should keep them from being introduced to his art.

    She cannot possibly be full and complete in every subject she covers, though I am sure she does her best. For many of these children, this will be their first exposure to any number of these cultures, and should it spark an interest in them, there are many paths they can follow to educate themselves and learn in fullness what they can of the culture.

    While being able to have an expert with the right color of blood come in to help teach every subject certainly would be pretty great, it is not very realistically attainable. I do not think that is a reason to simply not attempt to expose children to a culture, either.

    Saying an entire culture's art style is "copy written" to them and therefore can't be taught by anyone not of that culture is, quite frankly, rather racist and a fair amount depressing. Where would our children be if we could only teach and show them things we had the "birth right" to pass down? How far does that get us to cultural understanding, respect, and love for each other without racial boundaries? It only serves to set us farther apart.

    I do not see as it is any different than saying I should not be teaching my daughter Sign Language because we are not deaf, the wonderful art of origami because we are not Japanese, or how to play the Djimbe because we are not African. No, I'm not an expert on any of these things, but I try my best and I feel that not only is it not to be avoided it is to to strive for. Nor do I tell anyone they have no right to bake shortbread because they are not Scottish.

    This is not to say that true understanding should not be strived for, or that deep, spiritual, or bloodied issues should be glazed over with sprinkles on. However, there are limits to what you can cover in teaching elementary schoolers.

    We all have so much to learn from one another, and it has to start somewhere.

  23. I think you have stellar ideas and an obvious love for art in all forms. Thank you so much for sharing your passion and ideas with me so that I can incorporate them into homeschooling lessons for my children.

  24. All art forms are simplified when teaching kids (and adults.) ..also math, science, etc.

    An atmosphere of sharing information would only enhance the art experience for all of us.

    The post was not out of line. After reading it, I searched for what the shapes and colors symbolize, and more about the history and legends that I know are an integral part of this art.

    Negativity on a blog accomplishes nothing beneficial.

    Thanks for the post Gail.

  25. One thing that every blogger needs to realize is that no matter what you say, SOMEONE is going to get offended so be sure your motives are good and your words are graceful.



    I would encourage you to republish your last post and to continue on in the series and not allow yourself to be bullied.

    This is your (wonderful) blog and if people don't like something about it, they can stop COMING. They have a choice. As for you, don't allow yourself to be bullied and try not to allow nasty grams to affect what good you are doing here.

    Thanks for all you do. I am a homeschooling Mama and I can tell you with certainty, you have helped my childrens' art program immensely!

    (This coming from a woman who has nearly quit blogging a handful of times thanks to a select few nasties)

  26. I don't get all the fuss. Thank you Gail for a fantastic blog and keep up the great work.

  27. Hola. Soy de Buenos Aires, Argentina, el querer difundir las artes de aborigenes me parece lo más hermoso que hay, lo lindo sería que ellos mismo lo trasmitieran al mundo de los blancos y que todavía los reprimen y le quitan sus tierras. Creo que en el mundo en que vivimos todavía hay persona racistas y marginadores de la raza, digamoslo morena, negra!!!
    Debemos por sobre todas las cosas respetar sus costumbres de una buena vez y difundir a su vez sus artes que nos enseñan como extraer y crear elementos de la madre naturaleza, desde las tintas hasta como se suministran de alimentos!!! TODO REALIZADO POR LA TIERRA!!!

  28. I teach near Houston, TX and I thought the First Nations lesson was awesome! Most, if not all of my students have no clue about that topic and I plan to do the lesson with them. I live in a diverse place and welcome ways to introduce other cultures to my students. Thanks so much for helping me do this. :-)

  29. So sorry you had to remove it, I love your site and all the different ideas you have and I think it is very important to look at different cultures and traditions...

  30. Gail...if anyone reads your blog they know you are of no intent to harm anyone and have always encouraged others to better themselves through art.

    In order to teach..we do usually simplify for children. This simplification doesn't mean to degrade anyone or any culture. These comments are so disappointing! Open-mindedness is a two way street. The rich hating the poor because their poor is just as bad as the poor hating the rich because they are rich.

    Some of the comments make me wonder if the richness of this culture may be lost.

    I'm urging others to use their hearts when understanding your offense was intended. You only wished to emphasize how beautiful their art is.

    WE LOVE YOU GAIL! Please don't let this stop you from continuing your blog/posts...our school and myself have benefited and become better people. Continue on meant no harm. An understanding heart can be found in all of us. After all...we want to make the future better by not letting anger spur us in a wrong direction.

    Let's move forward and bring out the best in people by forgiving, loving and understanding!

    We love you Gail!

  31. Dear Gail!

    I am from Portugal (Europe), imagine! I just want you to know that I highly appreciate your blog. Keep giving us great ideas to teach art to children.
    All the best!

  32. Gail, you scored high on all counts.....
    the posting, and keeping (not deleting) all the comments for the readers to experience. The controversy is amazing with well articulated comments. This is the type of posting that leaders in blogging talk about and love just because of the reader's participation.

    On the other hand, it can feel like a personal attack that trips you up if you let it. Put your focus back on your beautifully illustrated teachings and the readers that are thrilled with your blog.

  33. I'm sorry about the negative response, but I don't think you were in the wrong. First of all, artists look at the work of other artists and it inspires and informs their work. One sees influences of Cycladian sculpture in Modigliani's paintings. Impressionists were looking at Japanese prints. The Gothic pointed arch derives from the Moorish influences. I don't think that these artists necessarily had a complete understanding of the culture that was influencing them anymore than my children have when the do a drawing of a totem pole or Egyptian sarcophagus or make a collage inspired by Madhubani painting. But, it's a response to the beauty and a step towards further understanding.

  34. Gail, I appreciate your fantastic ideas and hope that you continue to post meaningful art projects for children around the world to explore and try out. Too bad some people are not open enough to other ideas and cultures to appreciate the effort. For many kids, this may be the only exposure they have to Native art forms. Would the critics rather you ignore Native culture completely and pretend that they don't exist? I hope you continue to share thought provoking and interesting art that helps broaden horizons. Keep up the good work!

  35. Gail, you rock. Your post was great. Do NOT listen to a few people who have wounded hearts and are trying to blame their pain on you. I get that they feel they are spokespersons for their people, and that they feel there is a great deal of information not given here. However, that is not your intention, nor is it your responsibility to heal that pain.

    I believe that any way we can expose kids to the vastness of humanity is good. You were in no way stealing or simplifying this art anymore than you or any art teacher steals or simplifies any art work when they teach children. You should put the post back up.

  36. A surprising response to a cultural lesson. I live and work in a highly diverse area and have never been told that it is offensive to any culture to teach a lesson that shares their history or culture in the artwork presented to their children.
    Today I learned something new.

  37. I loved your last post and was anxious to use your lesson with my children (we live in the PNW where there is a lot of Native American Culture). I hope that whatever was said to you you didn't take too much to heart. You are a wonderful art teacher.


  38. I love your blog. I very much appreciate how much effort goes into putting up all the posts. I'm thrilled to have the inspiration.

    I'm sorry that you found yourself knee deep (neck deep?) in controversy when you weren't expecting it.

  39. Hmm.. living on Vancouver Island, it's hard for me to not want to create art with my students using FN colours and symbols(shapes) that are integral to the art of the people on whose land we reside. However, I've pretty well avoided doing so in fear of offending or malrepresenting. We are fortunate to have people employed by our local First Nation band office within our schools to do these kind of "cultural" activities (drum-making, 2D art, singing, oral language, stories and legends). Exposure is important, however.. could you invite an elder from a local reserve to do some FN art with your students (paying them accordingly)?

  40. Interesting to me that the person who wants to speak out against everyone doesn't even have the nerve to post as themselves and poses as "anonymous".

    Gail - I love your sites and your lessons. Keep on bringing it! (PS I was recently at a blogging conference and they said controversy could be GREAT for a blog! Rock it!)

  41. Thank you so much for sharing your talents with us Gail. I love your site and am grateful for being able to use your blog as a resource when doing arts with my kids. We have made so many unique artwork pieces that the kids will forever have .

    Thanks again,

    Sue, Or USA

  42. Well, it so easy to see, why these minority cultures are dying. If there's no connection to the 'real world', there is also no hope to survive in the existing reality. If these minority cultures are not supposed to be represented in school, then there will also be no understanding nor deep respect for them. That is a death sentence to a minority culture. It certainly is a two way street, as somebody commented it here.

    Gail, I've loved your posts, been teaching with your instructions (here on the others side of the world)and had very good feedback both from students and parents. Hope you have the strength to keep going on. There is so many people, that appreciate the work you are doing. Thank you for all the ideas and hope to hear from you in the future too :)

  43. Gail, your blog has been a real blessing to me and my children. I loved the FN art lesson and found it very interesting, living in an area in which we run across a great deal of this art (SE Alaska)on a daily basis. I wish you would put it back up because I'd love to use it with the kids. I don't get why anyone would consider it offensive. I always thought imitation was the sincerest form of flattery, but what do I know?
    But one thing I have learned from blogging over the years--no matter what you say or do, there is someone who will take offense. Just let it roll off you and keep doing what you do.

  44. Wow. This is the second time I have been to your blog. The first was yesterday. What an introduction! I will continue to check out you site because there are so many beautiful things here for my homeschooled children to learn from. I don't think that you intended to offend, of course not, and I do agree with what some posters have said about how sensitive this topic is. But I am glad you wrote about it and now I am intrigued to find out more about the reasons behind native art and I will search appropriate venues...

  45. Gail, I find your blog inspirational and find you are very generous in sharing your ideas. I teach art to younger children myself and find that we often need to break things down simplistically. At the end of the day, children's art should be about allowing children to express themselves and release their creativity.
    Giving children a glimpse of different cultures or exposing them to other artists through your post or art classes is educational and gives them a slightly broader view of the world. This can't be bad. I am a white Australian and I find it absurd that I should not be allowed to encourage my students to use an Aboriginal style in a project because I am not Aboriginal. I see it as encouraging greater respect and an interest in real Aboriginal art.
    We need to encourage tolerance and understanding in our world today and my feeling is that many of the people with negative comments to your post have succeeding in widening any existing divisions.
    Also, you can't please everyone all of the time.

  46. I live in Southern California and though I have taken a break from teaching in a formal classroom until my children are older, I did teach Art to middle school aged children. Previous Gail's post, I had no idea that there was a First Nations culture and I am thankful that she shared it as it's been a catalyst for me to further investigate.

    Thank you Gail for your site. Keep blogging and encouraging others in art!

  47. I wish you would re-post it. I missed it. I don't understand the problem. I must say that I am really turned off by the whole First Nation attitude here. What is being said is a sure way to kill of any interest.
    It was art work based on the bad there is only "correct" ways to do it.
    Gail you rock! I love your blog and look forward to seeing all the projects you do with the kids!!
    Keep up the good work. Sadly, I won't know what the first Nation is all about as I have no desire to learn more. Julie

  48. Gail, I almost never commented on your blog. But I love your posts, the instructions and realizations are so full of kindness, creativity, pureness and naive.
    This is your blog. And you post whatever you want.
    It is easy to critique when you are anonymous and nobody can look into your eyes/blog/past. Your blog has eyes, individuality and opinion. And the number of your followers says by itself.

  49. First of all, you are an incredibly gifted teacher. I saw your post - in fact it is still up on google reader which was good as I wanted to see what all the fuss was about and why you felt compelled to withdraw your post.

    I wish you hadn't done so. But of course you must do what you feel compelled to do. But for the record, you have presented the art in the most respectful way.

    It is becoming more and more apparent these days that there are people everywhere from many cultual backgrounds who take exception to every reference to their culture, how it is identified, presented, or respected. It doesn't matter what that culture it is. And it doesn't seem to matter how sincere a person might be in trying to understand and respect that culture. Most of us are going to find ourselves offending someone who has proclaimed themselves the watch dog and protector of their culture. Attitudes like this will send us back into the dark ages. In fact, things like this seem to point to us being there already. No tollerence or understanding. Dark Ages.

    That you, a competent, smart, excellent teacher have been driven by prejudice to take down a post written to educate and foster better understanding of a specific art form just makes me sick to my stomach. The dark ages.

  50. And don't we live in a North America where free speech is a way of life? At least for most of us?

    I am so upset by this situation, Gail.

    The person who wrote you apparently feels entitled to exercise his/her right to free speech so how come he/she feels they have the right to infringe on your rights and tell you what you should or shouldn't say.

    I am so sorry this has happened to one of the greatest gals in the blogisphere and one of the most inspired teachers I have even encountered.

  51. Gail, I love your blog. Your lessons and art are inspiring. I also missed your previous post and I'm sorry I did. Any basic lesson in the art of other peoples is a window into their world and their mindset. Anonymous could have chosen to open that window further to those who were intrigued by what they glimpsed -- especially children whose understanding could grow as they did. Instead anonymous chose to close the window. What a shame.

    Please keep sharing your gifts, Gail.

  52. I missed the post when you had it on the blog, but read in my reader just now, and truly, I see no reason why it should have been offensive. Yes, it did not discuss the meanings of these symbols or colour, or the overall significance, but at no point was there any hint of disrespect. This blog is meant to teach art to little children, not PhD students. When they are exposed to different kinds of art at this age, they will grow up more receptive, broader minded, and more open to respecting other cultures than otherwise. I have been so grateful when you introduced me to other cultures and opened my eyes to artists I didn't know existed - because I can then teach my child about these. If you had done a post on, say, Mithila paintings, or the miniatures of Rajasthan, I would perhaps correct factual errors if any, and point out the significance of some things which may be obscure to you, but I wouldn't want any of it to be removed. Perhaps, being an Indian, I should ask that the term Indian not be used for anyone not of my country - as a sort of copyright? :)

  53. I agree with Sam "I believe that any way we can expose kids to the vastness of humanity is good. You were in no way stealing or simplifying this art anymore than you or any art teacher steals or simplifies any art work when they teach children. You should put the post back up"

    As a teacher, in an elementary school in the city of Vancouver, I work with First Nations Students every year. I am continually surprised by the lack of knowledge they have about their own culture. I work in a school with children from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds, and I try to teach about the fact that everyone's family comes from somewhere else, except for the First Nations people who were here first. And that every family values where they came from and that this is very important. BUT also, that we all live in this fabulous country called Canada and that we also need to celebrate what it means to be Canadian.

    What I have found, in my personal experience with First Nations Children, is that because they know very little about their home culture, they are extremely interested, and very proud of what I teach to them in class. There are First Nations workers in the school system, but the support rarely shows up in the classroom. Knowledge is power and helps in understanding and empathy.

    I understand that the art of the First Nations people is sacred to them, and that I could never teach it without offending them, but where are the students in my class supposed to learn about it? Isn't it better that I try to teach them something about it, with the underlying message of respect for all cultures, than for them to remain ignorant and biased against First Nations People as a whole?


  54. Very interesting! If you have ever noticed, people, children inparticular, will quickly lose interest in something they are not allowed to engage in. If it is always a look but don't touch, then why would anyone care to know more? If Native art is only for native people to engage in and everyone else can look but don't touch, then interest in that culture will quickly be deminished to only those who are native. Our class rooms are filled with multi-cultured children who need to express what they are learning. If a Scottish child makes beautiful native American art but cannot display it or teach another how to do it also, then he will lose interest in that subject of art altogether. If on the other hand he is encouraged and enjoys it, he will likely want to delve deeply into meanings, cultures, colors, dances, foods, habitats, shelters, wars, weapons, colthing, history (good, sad, and bad), and the whole nine yards will become interesting and promoted.