Close Reading American Literature

For my thesis paper, I decided to focus on Native American literature that we have discussed in class. When we read Apess’ “An Indian’s Looking-Glass for the White man”, I was instantly taken to a moment in my life, last semester, when I taught a 3rd grade class on Native American history. I think what struck me most about this reading is how naïve the world still is when it comes to Native American history and their rights. As I taught my 3rd grade class I remember how little I actually knew about the history. The only “fresh” memory I had is from my high school textbook that informed us on how Native Americans were conquered and killed by the many diseases from the Europeans. The point is that it was from a “white” perspective and for most of my life that was how I portrayed the Native American people to be weak and minors. As I read Apess’ point of view of how strong these people are I instantly thought to myself, why was I never exposed to these type of authors in my education until college?! This is why I want to argue that the standards for Native American curriculum (which only really starts in the high school level) needs to be reevaluated to tell the truth about this group of people.

In his essay, Apess exposes the reality through his Native American identity. He states “but, reader, I acknowledge that this is a confused world, am I am not seeking for office, but merely placing before you the black inconsistency that you place before me – which is ten times blacker than any skin that you will in the universe” (97). At this moment Apess calls out all the wrong that the white people have done to the Native Americans by using them for their selfish purposes such as prostitution and laborers. The lack of rights and protection is addressed in this essay and the heartbreaking choice that many white people chose to ignore though “many say that they are willing… that we should enjoy our rights and privileges as the they do” (96). Apess calls out on the issue of racism through the constant image of skin barrier that rejects Native Americans from different opportunities and rights that they deserve in the first place. These issues still exists today, which is why I think it should be addressed in education through the Native American perspective so that students will understand that there is a chance for them to make a change about equality for all people.

Below is my introduction to my essay. This is still a draft paragraph. Please let me know what you think.


The average elementary school educator takes on multiple roles to prepare their students for the real world around them through different subjects. Yet, many times, the curriculum that they rely on is often sugar coated and does quite the opposite by teaching children a fantasized world that eventually does not happen when they reach higher-grade levels. This constant misinterpretation often comes through history lessons, particularly the representation of the Native American culture. The Native American curriculum needs to be recreated within America’s school system in order to teach children the truth about our history. However, many will oppose to this idea because it may disrupt a child’s innocence, which is why it is important to recreate the curriculum that is appropriate for children of different grades but still prioritizes the objective to tell the truth.


3 thoughts on “

  1. Judy, you have taken an interesting approach for your thesis. I have not yet had the chance to teach such a lesson because I too lacked knowledge on the subject. I now feel more prepared to remove the ignorant lesson plans on Native Americans and teach the truth about what really happened. I definitely agree with you. As teachers we should be showing students how to respect all people no matter what race or differences they too might have. There should be more diversity in the curriculum of the history of all people and ethnicity. Your intro sounds good and I cannot wait to hear more about your experiences as you teach history in your classroom.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is such a genius topic!! I would really like to see how you unpack these ideas to fit an elementary school classroom. I love how you found a way to incorporate your research in a relevant way. I am wondering, will you include a perspective unit plan map to kind of show the reader how you would plan to unpack the realities of Native American history? Perhaps you could show the importance of knowing the truth about this group of people and the student’s social/cultural development. Try to unpack and illuminate the significance of giving the holistic picture of what Native Americans were/are like and how the world around them has/does interact with them.

    Liked by 1 person

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