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Recognizing Indigenous Peoples' Day

Many at Grier observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day this Monday, October 12, 2020. This day is a holiday to celebrate and honor histories, cultures, and people indigenous to America. Grier’s History and English curricula create opportunities for students to celebrate and learn about Native Americans.
The culture and history of Native American tribes is an important part of US history, and something students in Mr. Sam Salyards’ US History classes are eager to discuss.

In Dr. Erin Guydish-Buchholz’s American Literature courses, students read texts from Native American authors. Her English 10 CP courses focused on Principal Chief Gregory Standing Bear who, Dr. GB writes, "petitioned the government eloquently to treat his people with more respect and legal justice." English 10 Honors students studied Creation Stories and Trickster Tales, and then wrote their own stories inspired by Native American texts. These students also studied writings by Standing Bear along with writings that examine how early efforts to "civilize" Native Americans in boarding schools "were ineffective, useful, and some of the effects that exist today."  

As Mr. Salyards’ students would know, long before Grier existed, tribes of indigenous Americans resided in the local region. Evidence of Native American presence in Pennsylvania exists strongly in geographic names, including: Delaware River, Susquehanna River, and more. In fact, the name of the river that flows by Grier, the Little Juniata, is derived from a Senecan word expressing the concept of a projecting rock, or a standing stone, that marks the intersection of several trails.

Some of the most well-known tribes in Pennsylvania include the Delaware, Lenape, Susquehannock, Iroquois, and the Shawnee. The latter of these people resided in central and western Pennsylvania. In the 1800s, Shawnee leader Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa attempted a unification of the eastern tribes; however, the US government broke the tribal alliance and forced the Shawnee people to relocate to Oklahoma Territory. Today, three distinct tribes of Shawnee reside in Oklahoma. 

After learning about Standing Bear and the damage done by forcibly "schooling" Native peoples, many of Dr. GB's students will wear orange shirts in a nod to the Canadian Orange Shirt Day movement. On this day, observed September 30th in Canada, people wear orange shirts to demonstrate solidarity in recognizing the value of indigenous cultures and the harm caused by the early schools designed to assimilate indigenous North Americans. For any students and teachers wanting to learn more about Native Americans and other indigenous peoples, Mrs. Woolfrey has created an Indigenous Peoples booklist.

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Grier School

2522 Grier School Rd. | P.O. Box 308; Birmingham, PA 16686-0308
Phone: 814-684-3000 | Fax: 814-684-2177