Students: Write your feelings about ‘a well-organized Indian attack’

Teacher distributes lesson written 47 years ago
By Brian Soergel | Mar 08, 2018
Courtesy of: KING 5 Here is the assignment given at Meadowdale Elementary School.

The Edmonds School District is praising a parent who brought to their attention an elementary school assignment that she deemed racist.

Shawna Gallagher, a Native American, said a teacher at Meadowdale Elementary School in Lynnwood gave her class a writing assignment that asked students to describe their “conflicted feelings toward the Indians” after seeing white colonists killed during a surprise attack.

Gallagher’s son Blaine, 11, was the only Native American in the class.

On Monday, March 5, the district met with Shawna Gallagher, teachers, Meadowdale Elementary Principal Daniel Davis and representatives of the district’s Indian Education office.

Gallagher also met with Assistant Superintendent Justin Irish.

“Her intent in going to the media – which we agree with and are reinforcing via our statements – was to let other families know they should bring concerns about curriculum forward,” said district spokeswoman Debbie Joyce Jakala, who added that Gallagher was “happy” with the district’s response.

“We want to reinforce that any families with concerns are safe to come forward to us so we can address and discuss.”

The lesson in question was not approved for the school’s curriculum, Jakala said, and was dated from 1971. It gave students the role as colonists who had received constant contact with Indian tribes that were “generally friendly” and came to their aid during the first winter.

Then, the lesson continued, “a well-organized Indian attack” was launched and killed several dozen men, women and children in the colony, “slaughtered with their own guns.”

In addition to describing their feelings toward the attackers, students were instructed to “include in your account some of your past experiences with the Indians and your plans for how you will deal with them in the future.”

Gallagher told the Beacon that she did not want to further discuss the incident, but she earlier told KING 5 News that “what they're doing is perpetuating hatred and segregation and stereotypical views of Native American people."

Jakala said she would not give details on the Meadowdale teacher, who is “legally afforded to privacy for disciplinary issues.”

“We are looking at all aspects of what occurred to ensure this does not occur again,” Jakala said. “It is too early in that exploration to cite specifics, but we take this very seriously and will make any identified changes needed and necessary.

“We want to emphasize that our district's race and equity work over the last several years is and remains at the forefront of our efforts to be inclusive, supportive and culturally competent in our daily practices across the district.

“We appreciate very much the family bringing to the forefront what occurred, knowing they are safe to do so, and we will be responsive.”


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