What did you learn about Indigenous history in class? : Today so far
- Teaching Native American History in Washington Schools.
- A Washington State Patrol trooper has died of Covid, months after defying the state’s vaccination mandate in a high-profile viral video.
This post originally appeared in KUOW’s Today So Far newsletter on January 31, 2022.
Looking back on my school years in western Washington, I can’t say I have a complete picture of our area’s history. Especially considering the many Native American cultures in our area. But that has changed in recent years.
We had a potlatch at my elementary school in suburban Seattle. A guest speaker from a local tribe told us (kids between grades 1 and 5) about salmon as we learned a dance using canoe paddles. From what I remember in the years that followed, Lewis and Clark came and then Bill Gates came (the rest of my local education was filled by almost live).
When I arrived at Issaquah High School, the first thing I saw painted on the wall welcoming the students was the face of a Native American wearing a war bonnet. We were the “Issaquah Indians”. During the year I spent at IHS, I had no idea that there was not a single group of “Indians”, rather many native tribes spread across the region, each with its own history and culture. Little did I know that not all tribes were known for the badges displayed at our school (or the meaning of that headdress), or for the treaties that established the tribes as sovereign nations within our state.
Issaquah High School finally changed its name and mascot, long before Washington’s recent decision to ban such themes. Our education system has seen a slight evolution since I, or many of you readers, were in the classroom. Beginning in 2005, updated to 2015, the legislature approved an effort to teach Native American history, culture, and government in K-12 schools. And it’s a program created with the tribes, not just about them, like KUOW does Sound side reports a branch of this effort with the Tulalip tribes. And for this story, read here. Maybe today’s students will get a little more out of the classroom.
The Washington State Trooper who chose to retire instead of complying with the state’s vaccination mandate has died of Covid.
Let’s be clear on one thing: this is not an “I told you so” story, nor is it about engaging in pandemic politics of my side against your side. It’s sad every time someone has died from Covid during this pandemic.
Many law enforcement officers chose to retire/leave their jobs when Washington implemented a Covid vaccination mandate in October 2021. Seattle initially lost about 100. The state patrol of Washington lost 127 soldiers and personnel. What makes the Cavalier Robert LaMay story unique is the high-profile nature of his outing. LaMay went viral after posting a video of his last shift, going on the radio to voice his objections to the tenure after two decades with WSP. He ended his call by telling Governor Jay Inslee to “kiss my ass.” Now, three months after his video went viral, making headlines around the world, LaMay has died of Covid.
It’s also part of a larger story that’s flown under the radar — 2021 has been the deadliest year for active-duty US law enforcement since 1930 (including local, state, tribal and federal), Covid being the leading cause of death. Covid was also the leading cause of death for law enforcement in 2020. Like the massive strain on our hospital system or the slowdown in the supply chain, it’s another reminder that the pandemic is affecting corners of society far beyond those of us who sniff.
Do you have a comment or want to contact me? Email me at [email protected]
AS SEEN ON KUOW
Washington state has officially pressed the pause button on a controversial long-term care insurance program known as WA Cares. Governor Jay Inslee recently signed into law a bill that delays the program’s launch until July 2023, giving lawmakers 18 months to make changes to the program and reassess its long-term solvency. The new law, which takes effect immediately, also provides refunds to all employees who had their paycheck docked after the payroll tax to fund the program launched on January 1. (Northwest News Network)
DID YOU KNOW?
If you have planned to clean your house, today is the time. Tomorrow, February 1, is Lunar New Year. (Chinese New Year, Spring Festival), celebrated by a quarter of the world’s population. And among superstitious holiday traditions, be sure to clean up before the big day. This is because such activities are considered bad luck during the holidays. Using a broom on New Year’s Day is like sweeping away your good fortune. Taking out the trash is like throwing away good fortune. Beyond that, washing your clothes or hair is considered the equivalent of washing your luck.
These are just some of the traditions of the holiday, which are akin to Western superstitions, such as the bad luck of breaking a mirror or mentioning the Scottish play in a theatre. Food is also a big issue. Families travel great distances to have a reunion meal. The Chinese word for “tangerine” is similar to the word for “gold”, so these are common. Fish is a similar situation; the Chinese word for “fish” sounds like the word for “surplus”. Noodles represent a long shelf life, so you shouldn’t cut them. And dumplings are popular. Some families will place a gold coin in a dumpling at random. If the person biting into the dumpling doesn’t chip a tooth, it’s good luck.
All this with the aim of starting the year on a positive note. For more, check out this video and video, which are my current favorite summaries of Lunar New Year traditions and taboos.