Old Grandfather Teaches a Lesson book cover

NEG PZF0.11ALA                   

Old Grandfather Teaches a Lesson:  Mimbres Children Learn Respect
Alarid, Carilyn and Marilyn Markel
Jan 2005

Pages 116

Grade: K-5 

Rating:  Harmful - Terribly stereotypical 
and in-accurate!

Grandfather explains to Runs Like the Wind, Talks All Day, Hits with His Fist, and Thinks A Lot how to use a talking stick to learn how to communicate and respect each other. Crude black and white drawings based on images found on museum pieces, of Mimbres pottery and drawings from a 1920’s archeological excavation, illustrate this lengthy didactic story.  At the back of the book the authors give a description of how to make a talking stick and how to personalize the sticks for the individual child in a class.  This is just another version of how to play Indian.  According to the preface this is the first book in a series that stresses the “importance of developing good character traits, and how to demonstrate ethical behavior.” The authors would have demonstrated ethical behavior, as well as cultural respect, if they had used their own experiences with a talking stick.  Instead they create a fictional Native American story based on a culture that can only be guessed at.  By assembling a behavior, values and meaning from designs on pottery and to assign pseudo-Indian names in order to teach “values” not only perpetuates stereotypes and cultural inaccuracies, but creates them.   Marlette Grant-Jackson – ITEPP-CRC


More Resources


Through Indian Eyes

Goals for writing and reviewing books with Native American themes

Native Americans Today a curriculum