A representative of the Smithsonian Museum of Art provided an opportunity to have students pick apart Native American stereotypes via Skype. The fifth graders at the International School at Dundee in Greenwich, Connecticut took a virtual field trip, learning about the history, culture and influence of geography, tradition, and tribe on contemporary Native American artists.
Smithsonian educator Ann Lang showed students through Skype how portrayals of American Indians have reinforced stereotypes as well as producing them. She showed them Willard Midgette’s 1971 painting “Sitting Bull Returns at the Drive-In.” This painting has two distict portrayals, and students used their iPads to zoom in and out of the contrasting images.
“They are actually interacting with an expert,” said Jane Martellino, a media specialist at ISD. . “So whether it is a museum or someone who is passionate about a particular field, just to have that interchange with that particular person, with an expert, is huge.”
Fifth grade teacher Sandra Millsbaugh said the lessons were useful in helping students debunk racial stereotyping.
“It is very important for children to talk about racial/ethnic stereotypes,” she said. “The more we teach children about different cultures and ethnic groups the more open minded and tolerant we become about different beliefs and ideas, which is how we evolve as a Global World.”