Sonoma State University -- September 17, 2003
Ed Castillo Will Help Change How Teachers Tell The Story
Of California's "First People"
Dr. Edward Castillo says he teaches college classes filled with students
who know little about Native American history or the contributions of
Native Americans who helped shape California.
He's not surprised, since his childhood education was not much different.
But the Sonoma State University professor and some colleagues are primed
to change what elementary school children are taught about Native Americans
and they've received more than $100,000 from the California State Library
Research Bureau to produce a teacher's guide to assist teachers with
their classroom discussions about California Indian history.
The guide will contain engaging classroom activities that teach
studentsabout the unique identities and cultural contributions of California's
First People, past and present, says Castillo.
The teacher's guide will be used throughout California in
all 8th grade classes, a pivotal time for children learning about history,
Easily digestible outlines of reservations, rancherias, cultural areas,
current practices and governance issues are will make California's
Native American history comprehensible to contemporary students.
Castillo is chair of the Native American Studies Department at the University.
He's a relatively young, intensely passionate teacher who works
every day as a scholar to enlighten and education college-aged students
about Native American history and culture.
The grant he and assistant researchers Dr. Jack Norton of Humboldt State
University (emeritus) and Dr. Clifford Trafzer of the University of
California at Riverside received will allow them to take that education
to younger students. Castillo is hoping that someday his college students
will come to him better informed about the contributions of California's
It's important to teach children the culture of California
Indians and to explain why more than 10,000 acres of reservation and
rancheria lands were lost in an ill-conceived plan to ŒFree the
Indians. Teachers will be encouraged to outline Euro-American historical
experiences, technology, and philosophical attitudes toward the natural
environment, and especially the human beings they encountered in this
place they called the New World.
An important question for this curriculum project is how pre-1846 policies
and attitudes shaped American views toward California Indians, says
The Teacher's Guide will also overview the Constitution of the
United States, the Gold Rush, statehood and the Westward movement, the
period of rapid immigrant population growth, and the rise of industrial
America‹all from the perspective of the Native Americans.
This unique perspective is something that Castillo, Norton and Trafzer
hope will help young students understand what led to a modern reservation
life through allotment of Tribal Lands, the fight for self-governing
rights and the current life of California's Native Americans.
We want students to also understand the growing participation
of California Indians in national civil rights efforts; to feel the
history behind the effort, says Castillo. An example of a noted
civil rights effort was the occupation of Alcatraz Island by American
Indians in 1969.
Castillo was there and later helped make several documentary films on
this pivotal event in modern California history. Castillo is well known
for his scholarly work in the discipline of Native American history
and culture and is called upon by other scholars and the media for comment
on Native American affairs. He is editor of Native American Perspectives
on the Hispanic Colonization of Alta California and The Pomo, A Tribal
He wrote several chapters in the Smithsonian Institute's Handbook
of North American Indians as well as Mission Indian Federation:
Protecting Tribal Sovereignty 1919-1967 published in the Encyclopedia
of Native American in the 20th Century.
He has written dozens of book reviews for Indian Historian, Journal
of California Anthropology, Western Historical Quarterly, and the American
Indian Quarterly and California History.
We know we can begin to address the desperate need our Indian
children and their non-Indian classmates have, by producing accurate
data, visual aids, activities, classroom and computer exercises that
will engage them in Native American history and culture.
Our goal is to show children of the 21st century, and their teachers,
a part of the history of California that they might have missed. It's
an important history, and one that will further their understanding
of their world, he says.
Contact: Jean Wasp, Media Relations, (707) 664-2057