So, I think not very many people know that I happen to teach at a school where over 95% of the students are Apache Indians (to give you an idea: as I look over the cafeteria in the morning, I can literally count 14 white children). They live about 15 minutes away on the San Carlos Reservation.
I really had know clue what teaching the Apache Indians would be like, and it has been a learning process every step of the way. I heard from different friends and family that it would be awful. I would be dealing with behavior issues most of the day. That living so close to a reservation would automatically put me in a high crime area. I began searching online for peer-reviewed articles about teaching Native Americans. I was a little concerned. But I figured that if I could handle my first day of subbing in Kankakee, then I could handle these kids.
But the reality of me teaching these kids is that most of the time, I forget that they are from a completely different world and culture than I am. They truly act like every other seven and eight year old I know: they sing Taylor Swift, they have “I heart Justin Bieber” on their notebooks, and they watch Adventuretime. But every once in a while, I am reminded of their reality and the unique struggles they face.
I will always remember my first week of teaching and meeting a grandparent of one of my kids. In her unique accent she asked, “Have you ever been to Arizona before?” and I said, “Well, I visited the Grand Canyon when I was a kid.” She chuckled and replied, “So this is your first time with the Native, then.”
Yes, this is my first time being anywhere near the Native. But I am falling in love with it more and more. So, as I learn about my students and their culture, I will be sharing it with you. I think their culture deserves a space here on my blog, since so often they are forgotten amidst preconceived notions and judgements across America. I hope you grow to love them as much as I do. xo Janel.