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Area Teachers To Get Clearer Picture of Native American History

Black Hoof, the Shawnee civil chief, sent a letter to Thomas Jefferson hoping his people would not be removed.
Black Hoof, the Shawnee civil chief, sent a letter to Thomas Jefferson hoping his people would not be removed.

Eight months after a highly publicized and controversial encounter between a Covington Catholic student and a Native American in Washington D.C., a group of area teachers are learning how to better educate students about indigenous peoples.

The Greater Cincinnati Native American Coalition's Jheri Neri is encouraged.

"We are working toward creating a curriculum and a relationship within the education community. "We're working with Summit Country Day. We're working with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. We're working with UC Blue Ash and different education facilities as well as the Smithsonian."

Smithsonian Institute educator Renee Gokey is coming to Cincinnati State Saturday, Sept. 21 for a workshop. Gokey, a citizen of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe, is with the National Museum of the American Indian.

"We found that teachers, especially in regards to removal, mostly teach about the Trail of Tears or the Cherokee story and that's a vitally important story, but we're hoping to expand into the other 30 or so tribes that were also forceably removed," she says.

Neri helped bring Gokey to Cincinnati. He says Ohio has a tremendous Native American history. 

"If you are in Fairfield or in Cincinnati or wherever, you'll be able to say this was Native American land at one time and we're going to teach about the removal of the people that were here," he says.

The Shawnee Tribe had two big reservations in Ohio. One in Wapakoneta and the other at Hog Creek, just north of Wapakoneta. The Eastern Shanee were on the Lewistown Reservation in Ohio, along with some Seneca. A third Federally-recogized Shawnee Tribe is called the Absentee Shawnee.

Gokey says she uses quotations, treaty language and cultural objects to teach. "There's a letter from Catecahassa, or Black Hoof, the head civil chief of the Shawnee in Ohio, to Thomas Jefferson. The early letter talked about how he hoped his Shawnee people would not be removed."

Gokey says if teachers can't come to the Saturday workshop they can get information online at AmericanIndian.si.edu/nk360 by searching "removal."

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