After taking this course, it is incredible how badly the American public education system (at least in my experience) failed in teaching students about American Indians. I genuinely remember learning nothing about native Americans while in school which is absolutely a disservice because these are people that are alive and have a culture rich with knowledge and experience that we can learn from. They know and understand the land. They have a stronger connection to natural resources and know how to coexist with them without destroying their environment. They have been able to exist in an arid climate using incredibly intelligent farming techniques. There is so much the American people can learn from cultures such as that of the Tohono O’Odham, and I think it is absolutely necessary that students are introduced to American Indians at a young age. Their way of life is so incredible and filled with spirit. Me and Haley talked with Kiowa (Joe’s grandson) after dinner, and we started talking about how the world seemed to be getting more and more materialistic. It is something I think about often, but it was so interesting to listen to Kiowa talk about it because I can guarantee I am more materialistic than him. I can say that because I am not American Indian and I was not raised thinking about the values of reciprocity and thanking the earth whenever I took from it and being grateful for every piece of the universe that was placed so delicately in its place for me to experience. That’s not a stab at my parents because they did a fantastic job, but these aspects of spirit are simply not in our culture. I think we need to act fast and start integrating more spirit and gratitude into our culture before we destroy it to the point of no return because we didn’t realize the true value of our land and water. When it comes down to it, the most valuable thing on earth is the earth itself. We as a people could not exist without the earth. Everything that has ever existed came originally from the earth, in some form, because we didn’t just create it out of thin air. But to think that the things we create are more important than the source of all things in our life is naive, ignorant, and will lead to our demise.
So, at the end of this all, let’s take something from this experience and integrate it into our own lives. I’ve started thanking everything, oftentimes out loud, when I take and try to give back and equal force. I might become a teacher after I graduate, and if I do and happen to end up in social studies or history, I will do my best to find a way to integrate teachings about American Indians. It’s a beautiful way of life they have and the amount of strength they have demonstrated in persevering through hardship to hold on to their ways of life is so impressive. To them I say keep going. To us I say let’s listen to them!