Five-year-old Nyemah Greenhouse was given a school assignment to “dress like an Indian” and her mother Tremeka Greenhouse was not too happy about the offensive undertones and cultural appropriation that it requested of the students. Nyemah didn’t want to get in trouble with her teacher for not doing the assignment so her mother came up with a great idea and compromise.
“I’ve been following the story of the DAPL protestors and thought it would be good for Nyemah to go dressed as a water protestor instead of an actual Indian ‘costume,’” Greenhouse told The Huffington Post. “I discussed with Nyemah and she loved the idea. Especially after I explained to her the purpose of the protest and we went over the pictures.”
Greenhouse, Nyemah, and Greenhouse’s older daughter Taniyah created a vest with a water-colored pillowcase and acrylic paint. The vest has the words “Water is Life” and #NODAPL written across the front, and perfectly expresses solidarity with the Native American population that are protesting the invasive pipeline on their sacred land.
Taniyah then posted the awesome photo of her sister wearing the vest on social media and it has received almost a thousand retweets and almost 2,000 likes.
My sister was supposed to dress like “”””an Indian”””” today for kindergarten. This happened instead pic.twitter.com/uZL4US2iJ9
— Shampion Greene (@JTaniyah) November 16, 2016
Greenhouse said their family are not particularly “activist-types” but she’s trying to teach her children to speak up when they see bad things happening.
“We do a lot of reading and I’ve shared lots of pictures of Standing Rock with [Nyemah],” said Greenhouse.
She added, “I’ve tried to teach her what really happened with the Native Americans in this country, but at her age, what the teacher says is golden.”
This experience is a good reminder that parents can educate their children about current issues and those that schools don’t cover accurately or fully, and like Greenhouse, can educate their children in creative ways when their given offensive school assignments.