• Stereotypes

    Photo courtesy of Kate Kennedy

     

    Native American Stereotypes Discussed

    Kate Kennedy ’99 welcomed a representative of the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor this week to speak to her U.S. History students about “Deconstructing Native American Stereotypes.”

         Angelau Raup, manager of education and outreach at the museum, led a session that examined and explained common stereotypes about Native Americans that students may have encountered. The aim of the session was to move beyond those stereotypes.

         Thank you, Angela, for sharing this important lesson about Native American stereotypes and the Wabanaki people, who have been here for thousands of generations. According to the Abbe Museum website, “Wabanaki” is a collective term, meaning “People of the Dawnland,” for the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot tribes. Learn more about the Abbe Museum online here: www.abbemuseum.org

         When we encounter someone new in the world around us, we tend to categorize that person based on the characteristics we perceive. We may see this new person as similar or different to others we’ve already met, and we may make value judgments, too. We may put them in a group, or they may call themselves a member of that group. This natural tendency is an often necessary aspect of human learning.

         It’s also natural for us to learn from each other, but that is best done through real, personal, meaningful interactions. When our understanding of any group is based on how its members are presented in popular culture, we may be “learning” from inaccurate, biased, stereotypical portrayals created for our entertainment, not to promote clear understanding.

         And even if our understanding of a member of a group comes from a real, personal, meaningful interaction, we must be careful not assume that others in that group will share those same characteristics.