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Cherokee Days 2019 - Missing Pieces: Rediscovering Keetoowah Language, Law, Literature

National Museum of the American Indian
The museum's sixth annual Cherokee Days Festival brings together members from the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes (Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians) to celebrate and share their culture, history, and arts with the public. In this video, Ernestine Berry (United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians) , director of the John Hair Cultural Center and Museum in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, gives a talk on Missing Pieces: Rediscovering Keeoowah Language, Law, Literature. This talk was webcast and recorded in the Rasmuson Theater of the National Museum of the American Indian on April 13, 2019.

A World of Lines: A Resource Kit Using Children's Literature, Objects and Art

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teaching kit employing the approach of the Smithsonian's museum lab school includes art prints, children's literature, objects, and lesson plans with activities. Lesson begins with Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, leading to an exploration of the many types of lines that make up the world through simple objects such as yarn, string, and pipe cleaners. Reproductions of famous artworks broaden the exploration. Purchase required.

What Defines Latino Literature?

Smithsonian Magazine

“Right now, being a Mexican in the United States is very scary,” says Ilan Stavans, Professor of Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College and editor of the recently published Norton Anthology of Latino Literature. “You are often at the bottom of the scale, and there is a lot of animosity.” Literature, Stavans says, can help smooth interactions among the diverse ethnic groups and cultures in the country. The 2,700–page anthology, which includes 201 authors, arrives at a pertinent moment. According to recent census statistics, more than one out of every two people added to the U.S. population between 2008 and 2009 is Hispanic, and by 2050, the group will increase to 30 percent of the U.S. population. Stavans recently discussed with me the exhaustive project of assembling the collection and the evolving role of Latino culture in the United States.

Can you describe the genesis of the project?

The project started 13 years ago. By then, a number of Latino writers had crossed from the margins to center stage. There was a lot of interest in how people would articulate this new literature that was emerging. Would it be a literature of specific groups, for example, Puerto Rican literature or Cuban American literature? Or, was there one single river that had a number of tributaries? Henry Louis Gates, Jr. had just published The Norton Anthology of African American Literature, and I thought that it was time for something similar to be done with Latino writers. Latino literature has now consolidated its presence. It is clear that it is here to stay and that it is pushing the limits of its own conditions, with novelists of all sorts reaching beyond what I would described as Latinidad— or what it means to be Latino in the United States. In the last several decades, Latinos finally have been entering the middle class. This anthology not only explains the forces behind that economic move but justifies the move. It is a book that all middle-class Latinos need, proof that we’ve made it: We’ve arrived.

How did you and fellow editors decide to use the term “Latino” in the title instead of other appellations such as “Hispanic”?

Two prominent terms, “Latino” and “Hispanic,” refer to people living in the United States who have roots in Latin America, Spain, Mexico, South America, or Spanish-speaking Caribbean countries. “Hispanic” is a reference to Hispania, the name by which Spain was known in the Roman period, and there has always been strong ambivalence toward Spain in its former colonies. Hispanic was the term adopted by the government—by the Nixon government in particular— and that made the community feel it was being branded. The term “Latino” has emerged as more authentic, although it’s gender specific. In any case these two terms, at present, keep on fighting for space. Newspapers will sometimes use both in the same article as if editors chose not to choose. The anthology’s editorial team endorsed the community-preferred word and made that clear in the preface.

Given that so much of the material included in the collection is political or historical and not necessarily what we think of as literature, how did the editors define literature?

The anthology understands literature in a very open-ended fashion, not only short stories and poetry and novels, but memoirs and nonfiction books, logs and letters and types of music ranging from corridos [traditional Mexican ballads] to pop songs, also cartoons, comic strips, and jokes. We ended up endorsing “literature” as a written expression that conveys the search for identity. Historically, the 19th century is defined by annexations and internal turmoil. For instance, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 gave more than half of Mexican territory to the United States. Latino writers of that time could not avoid having some sort of involvement, either as activists or simply as observers of what was taking place.

Image by Getty Images. Norton Anthology of Latino Literature is 2,700 pages and includes 201 authors, including poet William Carlos Williams. (original image)

Image by AP Photo / Daily Hampshire Gazette, Kevin Gutting. Latino writer Martín Espada is one of many mentioned in The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature who say Walt Whitman influenced them and consider him as a godfather. (original image)

Image by AP Photo / Frank Eyers. Jimmy Santíago Baca is an award-winning poet who taught himself to read and write while in prison at age 19. Along with Williams and Espada, Baca also views Walt Whitman as a godfather. (original image)

What are some of the common themes you found in Latino writing as you assembled this collection?

First and foremost is the idea of the search for a place to call home, individually and collectively. Are we at home in America? What does America mean to us? And what do we mean to America? This question of home results in tension between rebellion and consent. A current throughout the collection is frustration, anger and outright rebellion, particularly during the Civil Rights era, and the quest for validation. Then there’s the gender theme: How is gender dealt with in Latino society? The works in the anthology also explore the impact of poverty and alienation on a person’s mind and spirit. And then there’s the theme of language: What are our words? Are they Spanish or English? Or are they to found in Spanglish?

A number of the Latino writers included in the anthology say Walt Whitman influenced them. Why do you think this is so?

We can’t talk about America today without feeling that the ghost of Whitman is sitting next to us, particularly when you are dealing with so-called minority or ethnic literature. In the 19th century, Whitman was receptive to the idea of multitudes—a country that is made of many countries. He looks at New York City as a metaphor for the rest of the country, and that New York City is a symphony of voices, of backgrounds. In particular, when it comes to poetry, there are a lot of Latino writers that view him as a godfather, or even as a compadre. William Carlos Williams, Martín Espada, and Jimmy Santíago Baca, for instance. Whitman is in writers who want not only to produce aesthetic artifacts but also use those cultural and literary artifacts as tools or weapons for change.

In the section titled “Into the Mainstream” you say that Latinos are united by their language and minority status. Do you think that the literature will change when Latinos are longer in the minority?

It has been said that by the year 2050 one of every three Americans will be of Latino background. Maybe in 2050, you won’t have to put together a Norton Anthology of Latino Literature because Latino literature will be American literature. But, on the other hand, the more global the world and the country become, the more we emphasize our differences. The more we all look the same and eat the same food and dress the same way, the more we want to say that some of us came from Italy and some of us came from Ireland, or we’re Jewish or Latino. I think that we will see something not unlike the Jewish American experience, in which Latino culture becomes so integrated into the DNA of mainstream culture that it will be very difficult to distinguish between one and the other. How long that will take, I don’t know.

Personal Ads�_�and Not for Dating (Look Great for a College)

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which college-bound eleventh-graders research schools and "market" themselves online as prospective students.

Top Reasons to Attend My School

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which teens "market" their school to prospective students.

Making School a Better Place

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Unit of teacher-created writing and speaking lessons in which students identify problems at school and choose one problem that they might solve.

Proving the Purpose of Punctuation

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in good grammar that is also an introduction to the design process.

Learning Paragraph Structure Through Design

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which students design a graphic representation of a good paragraph.

Artful Cooking

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teaching kit using Maurice Sendak's Chicken Soup with Rice as a starting point in a conversation about the diversity of food. Connects art reproductions (e.g., Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol) to simple objects like chopsticks and a soup spoon. Lesson plans feature language, science, music, and motor activities, as well as art enrichment. Based on the philosophy and approach of the Smithsonian's museum lab school. Purchase required.

A Persuasive Design

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which children research an animal that they think might make a good pet. They then write a persuasive letter to a parent.

Let the Games Begin

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which students work collaboratively to design a game with clearly written instructions. The game requires players to round three- and four-digit numbers to the nearest ten, hundred, and thousand.


SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which young children design a visual dictionary. They draw the pictures to accompany the words.

Writing the Kindergarten Constitution

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which kindergarteners vote on the best solution to a class problem.

What Should a Playground Look Like?

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which young students design a playground that would "allow for opportunities to share, take turns, listen, and talk."

Spreading the News

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Lesson in which students follow a guided Internet hunt as they play the role of a newspaper reporter trying to research, write, and publish an article about the history of the Star Spangled Banner. Intended to teach how to better synthesize ideas and facts in written and artistic products. Part of the resource, 'Making the Star Spangled Banner.' Targets grades 3-5.

Explore Pueblo Pots

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Lesson looking at imagery on Pueblo pots by examining images and reading short excerpts from Native American folklore. Students create their own pots and explain the symbolism they use. Part of the resource 'Pueblo Pots.'

Create a Word Bank

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which young students design a means of recording new vocabulary words.

Redesign My Street! Street Design for Pedestrian Safety

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which students explore issues of pedestrian safety in their community. They conduct interviews and brainstorm ideas for redesigning a street or intersection.

Understanding and Using Primary and Secondary Sources in History

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Lesson on the correct use of primary and secondary sources. A discussion and writing assignment will explain how primary sources are used and what they can and cannot offer in comparison to secondary sources. This activity is part of the online exhibit The Star Spangled Banner: The Flag that Inspired the National Anthem. Targets grades 6-8.

Poetry and Our National Anthem

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Lesson analyzes the 'The Star Spangled Banner' for use of poetic devices. Students will express the meaning of the national anthem in their own words and write their own poetry relating to the flag or other historical event. Part of the online exhibit The Star Spangled Banner: The Flag that Inspired the National Anthem. Targets grades 6-8.

Music, Poetry and History: The National Anthem

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Classroom activity asking students to memorize, paraphrase, and practice singing 'The Star Spangled Banner.' Part of the online exhibit The Star Spangled Banner: The Flag that Inspired the National Anthem. Targets grades 3-5.

Reading Dakota Dugout

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Lesson has students read Dakota Dugout by Ann Turner and answer questions about the book. They examine an artifact that would have been important to women living in a sod house on the frontier and try to determine what it is.

Eye Contact Teacher's Guide

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
This teacher's guide offers lesson plans that explore the various mediums of portraiture in the past century. The lessons encourage students to think critically as they view works of art and to make connections between visual and written expression.

Rebels: Painters and Poets of the 1950's

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Website including an essay and photos/portraits of post-World-War-II avant garde artists in the Beat Generation, the San Francisco Renaissance, the Black Mountain poets, and the New York School poets, who were united under a common feeling of embattlement rather than a poetic style.
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