Saturday, November 25, 2006

Million-Dollar Day

On Wednesday I made my first Native American presentation to grade-school children. Since November is when all the kiddos learn about the first Thanksgiving and it is Native American Heritage month, I asked my son's third-grade teacher if I could do a half-hour talk on American Indians.

So I gathered up some of my things--arrowheads and stone tools, a dancing stick, pottery, mini baskets, etc.--and was treated to a great reception by the children. When adults go to a talk, they often sit in the back, but children pull their chairs right up to your kneecaps and look at you as if you have the most fascinating things to say.

I gave out goodie bags that included copies of an article on Indian museums I'd written for a regional parenting publication, a bookmark or wrist band, and a jute string. The kids were curious what the string was for. Finally, one girl shouted, "Are we going to do cat's cradle?!" One of the teachers helped me demonstrate the Lenape greeting of clasping the middle arm with the left hand and saying, "Hé." Webster's doesn't provide an etymology for hey--but I think this greeting could be the basis for the word hey.

The children gathered around me to ask questions and beg for more wrist bands. I felt like a rock star for a day.

Side note: The picture is not of my son's class.

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