California Educator

June/July 2021

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Lesser-known historical figures who inspired our educators and changed America As told to Sherry Posnick-Goodwin Fred Kabotie was born in 1900 and was the first Native American to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship for the arts. You may have seen his murals in Bright Angel Lodge at the Grand Canyon, or his paintings in the Smithsonian and the Guggen- heim Museum. At age 9, the U.S. Cavalry took him away from the Hopi reservation in Arizona to a boarding school in New Mexico. He was not allowed to speak Hopi or practice his religion. While away, he lost his mother and sister to smallpox, and his father and uncles were sent to Alcatraz and imprisoned. At school Kabotie picked up sticks of charcoal and drew on sand, rocks or paper, depicting Hopi ceremonies. The superin- tendent's wife encouraged him and gave him paint. Eventually he returned to the reservation and sold his work. His friend Bill Belknap, an author and photographer who was interested in Native Americans, sent one of his paintings to the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Kabotie received a fellowship and money from the foundation, which he used to learn and teach silversmithing. He developed and taught the Hopi the overlay jewelry technique, so they could sell jewelry and earn a living. Kabotie encouraged his tribe to make connections outside of the reservation while maintaining their religion, culture and art. He strove for social justice and healing. He was part of the development of the Hopi cultural center and museum, which helped visitors understand the Hopi culture and provided employment for Hopi. Fred Kabotie was my grandfather. Before he died in 1985, he taught me songs, traditions and stories. And he taught the Hopi people resilience. MARY LEVI F O U R T H G R A D E T E A C H E R , S Y C A M O R E E L E M E N T A R Y Upland Teachers Association artin Luther King Jr. Rosa Parks. Pocahontas. Cesar Chavez. These historical figures are included in textbooks, but countless other unsung heroes of color — especially women — are overlooked and ignored. As educators strive to offer a broader and more inclusive look at our past, many are highlighting diverse people who helped shape our world. This provides students a deeper understanding of events that transformed this country and allows students of color, especially, to realize that people who look like them played a significant role in American history. We asked educators to share their favorite unsung heroes and why they chose them. Some selected individuals from early times; others picked modern-day people who have inspired them. M Fred Kabotie with Eleanor Roosevelt. 17 J U N E / J U L Y 2 0 21 "He taught me songs, traditions and stories. And he taught the Hopi people resilience." Mary Levi

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