Freshmen Explore Treatment of Native Americans

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After reading about the treatment of Native Americans during the 1800s in the allegorical short stories “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves” by Karen Russell, and  “Cheyenne Again” by Eve Bunting, East Islip High School students in Greg Kguloian’s freshman English class went on a virtual field trip, conducting research on the Dakota Access Pipeline situation in North Dakota as it unfolded and developed, and comparing current and past treatment of Native Americans. They explored the facts and history behind eminent domain and the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which requires the government to provide just compensation to the owner of private property to be taken. After doing the appropriate research, the students formulated arguments to consider their essential curriculum question for the year regarding the individual’s role within his or her society.

“The educational merit of this project went far beyond anything we’ve done in our class before,” said Kguloian. “It had real-world and real-time ramifications regarding the environment. It was both poignant and timely in regards to the treatment of Native American lands as they hung in the balance of promised sovereignty vs. national energy interests. The takeaway from the short stories was to help our young people see history from the point of view of the Native Americans, learn about what they lived through and then ask themselves, ‘Is it right?’ The interaction between my pupils was extremely impressive. Every one of them was engaged and couldn’t wait to share what they discovered via their research and even their conversations with family members, friends and relatives.”