News Release
University Affairs Office
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    September 17, 2003     
    Contact: Jean Wasp, Media Relations, (707)664-2057


Ed Castillo Will Help Change How Teachers Tell
the Story of California's "First People"

Dr. Edward Castillo 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 wasn’t 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 students about 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 Native Americans.

“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 ‘Free 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 Castillo.

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 History.

He wrote several chapters in the Smithsonian Institution’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.

NOTE: A digital photo of Dr. Edward Castillo is available upon request.


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Last Modified: 09/16/2003