A ‘Journey into American Indian Territory’

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Cultural anthropologist Bob Vetter was a welcome visitor at Thomas J. Lahey Elementary School on March. 6. The school’s fourth graders recently completed their unit on Native Americans and thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Vetter’s inside look into the cultural traditions of the Lenape and Montauk tribes.
His “Journey into American Indian Territory” presentation touched on many frequently asked questions regarding the eastern woodland Indians – formerly from Long Island – and debunked some stereotypical ideologies evoked mainly from television and movies. For instance, after living with Lenape natives for several weeks in Oklahoma, Mr. Vetter said that while Americans commonly refer to Indians as Native Americans, many tribal members prefer the former.
Mr. Vetter also talked about how Indian families were forced onto reservations, their children transported to boarding schools and their religions outlawed in the early 1600’s after the European settlers arrived in what is commonly referred to as the “new world.” That was the case until 1978 when the American Indian Religious Freedom act was passed.
Additionally, Mr. Vetter stressed that while many Indians did forest for food, hunt buffalo on horseback, fish, build teepees, long houses or wigwams in the past, they typically live like any other person today, while still keeping with their tribe’s traditional ceremonies and religions.