District 65 offices at the JEH Education Center.

The school district which is about to adopt a lengthy and mandatory statement of wrongs done to Indigenous people in America is apologizing for the use of material which “perpetuates stereotypes” and serves to “dehumanize” Native Americans.

In a letter posted on the Evanston/Skokie District 65 website, Assistant Superintendent Stacy Beardsley says using the materials, which were part of a third grade lesson, was “wrong … while also advancing white supremacist colonial beliefs and stereotypes.”

The materials were part of a lesson which was supposed to have students “mark whether stereotypes about Indigenous people were true or false.”

The online lesson was done by third graders on their own, with a goal of measuring how much students would have learned by the end of the unit. However, Beardsley says the intent is “irrelevant, particularly given that the impact of the choice was ultimately the distribution of racist curricular content.”

The activity has been removed from the curriculum. Beardsley says future activities will be better vetted, and a community advisory panel will be established to assist with the social studies framework.

She apologized for the “harm and breach of trust” caused by this situation, and said that future materials will be filtered through an “antiracist, decolonized lens.”

Tonight the District 65 Board of Education is expected to approve mandatory reading of a “Land Acknowledgement,” which outlines a litany of wrongs committed against Indigenous and enslaved people in the United States.

As presented, the acknowledgement would be read publicly before each full board meeting and committee session It takes about three-and-a-half minutes to read the document out loud.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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