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South Knoxville students learn Native American history through interactive, virtual workshop

Published: Mar. 3, 2021 at 5:22 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - South Knoxville Elementary third-graders were at it again learning about the first people in the U.S., Native Americans.

Third-grader Gianna Chandler was excited for Wednesday’s lesson with a Blount Mansion volunteer. For her, the lesson hit home.

“I can kind of relate because my grandmother was a Native American,” explained Chandler, “And she was part of the Cherokee tribe. So it was kind of a good lesson because I got to kind of connect with my grandmother and how she was learning about the cultures back in the day.”

Third-grader Joseph Jordan also enjoyed the lesson.

Jordan said, “It made me feel good because I’ve already been learning about Native Americans and I want to know more.”

But it wasn’t just a lesson, students used corn and glass beads to make necklaces.

The corn beads looked like tears to represent the Trail of Tears the Native Americans embarked on when Andrew Jackson passed the Indian Removal Act in 1830. The legend went when they cried tears walking the Trail a new plant grew.

“One of the things that children need to understand is the traditional crafts and traditional lifeways. And this gives them an opportunity to do that,” said Dr. Mark Finchum.

Finchum donated the materials used. As a social studies teacher for a couple of decades he knew the importance of teaching kids about indigenous people.

“It is not a chapter of history that is gone. It is just one chapter in a history of people that have suffered tragedy, but great triumph as well,” said Dr. Finchum.

Chandler’s hope from the lesson: “That I can like connect with other Native Americans and their cultures too because it’s awesome to learn about a different culture that may not be your culture. And it’s awesome to step out of the box and learn about something new.”

A Blount Mansion representative shared a Nashville and Memphis school have picked up on utilizing the virtual tours offered from the Blount Mansion.

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