Virginia Governor Proposes "Natives Are Immigrants" and Columbus Was a Good Businessman

Virginia Governor Youngkin just proposed new history standards for all Virginia students. He released them over the weekend and the first hearings are this Thursday, to try to force them through quickly. He proposes to teach Virginia children a lot of falsehoods about Natives and very little mention of Asian, Latinos, or Pacific Islanders. His new standards include genocide denial and that Natives are "immigrants." The new standards teach:

1. Columbus is a hero and Virginia kids will be taught to admire him. No mention of genocide and the more than three million Native deaths he ordered. While it's not expected or desired that very young children be taught about his mass torture and mass rapes, they should not be propagandized at a young age with obvious lies.

Youngkin’s standards include having Virginia children read Peter Sis's Follow the Dream in first grade. Sis's book shows Columbus as a hero, denies there was any conquest, depicts Natives as childlike, and that they worshipped Columbus as a God.

2. Natives are repeatedly called "immigrants" in the standards instead of indigenous. This is a common way white supremacists deny Native land ownership.

3. There is no mention at all of the multiple genocides against Natives, from Columbus's to smallpox blankets by the British to California Indian genocide to forced sterilization of Natives in the US in the 1970s. The Trail of Tears is briefly mentioned, but not as ethnic cleansing.

4. Youngkin’s standards bizarrely argue Columbus's invasion and genocide be seen as good business, "entrepreneurial." The same with similar invaders Coronado and Ponce de Leon. Leon was governor of Puerto Rico, with a record there as brutal as Columbus’s.

5. There's quite a bit of Cold War hysteria in the standards, and it also affects what students are taught about Natives. They use a false estimate of 100 million deaths by communism from a debunked work, The Black Book of Communism. Then there's mention of "other genocides" Rwanda and the Holocaust. But there is no mention at all of genocide against Mayan Indians by Reagan and Guatemala's dictatorship. Or forced sterilization of Natives in the US, or cultural genocide in Indian boarding schools.

6. There’s little mention of Pacific Islander, Asian American, or Latino history. Nothing on the Hawaiian Kingdom, Guam or Samoa, Chinese and Mexicans in the Gold Rush, Exclusion Acts, lynchings and mob violence against Asian Americans and Latinos, Asians or Latinos in the Civil Rights Movement, the Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement, or the Model Minority Myth. As a whole, these standards include large sections that are historically false, deliberately designed to pander to those invested in white supremacy and Christian nationalism. In other sections like the civil rights movement, they've left things alone, knowing they'd face large angry protests from the Black community.

Teaching children these bigoted claims, outright lies, and exclusions harms us all, makes it harder for them as adults to understand and relate to people of other backgrounds. Children need truthful history about Natives, and groups like Asians, Latinos, and Pacific Islanders should not be excluded. But Youngkin apparently feels he can offend against Natives, Asians, Latinos, and others at will, even falsify history. He can pretend they don’t matter because there are fewer of them in Virginia and even fewer who voted for him, while bigots favored him. After all, he won election primarily by a fear and hatred campaign targeting gays and especially trans people.

The Hamkae Center worries that not enough teaching is being done about Asian Americans. Teaching for Change is trying to use education in schools to reduce prejudice. They both are speaking against Youngkin’s proposals. The eight recognized Native tribes in Virginia are considering how to respond to these standards. Virginia children not be indoctrinated with bigoted and exclusionary propaganda as Youngkin is trying.

Standards and analysis of them are below:

Dr. Alton Carroll Associate Professor of History, US, American Indian, Latin American Languages, Arts, and Social Sciences (LASS) Division NOVA Loudoun

The proposed standards are online at

On page 1 at K.2 a. it describes Natives as "immigrants from Asia."On page 2 at b. it calls Natives "America's first immigrants." Then again at K.5 e. it again calls Natives "America's first immigrants." Students are being propagandized to never call Natives indigenous. There is never any mention of Native accounts of Native origins.

On page 4 at 1.2 it urges the use of Peter Sis's Follow the Dream to teach kids in First Grade to admire Columbus as a hero.Pueblo historian Debbie Reese critiques Sis as denying conquest and showing Natives as childlike and worshipping Columbus.

On page 5 at 1.7 it states students will celebrate Columbus Day, though it's no longer a state holiday. This suggest Youngkin wants to overturn the law, or ignore it.

On page 40 at WHII.12 b. it discusses modern genocides by communism and then "other genocides" but leaves out genocide against Mayan Indians by Reagan and dictator Rios Montt in Guatemala and forced sterilization of Natives in the US in the 1970s. On page 42 at VUS.1 a. it describes Columbus, Coronado, and Leon as good businessmen or "entrepreneurs" and explorers rather than invaders, colonizers, or engaged in genocide as Columbus did in Hispaniola and Leon did in Puerto Rico.

There is also zero mention in the standards of Iroquois influence on the Founders especially Ben Franklin and the writing of both the Articles of Confederation and Constitution.

Virginia Students Oppose Giving Youngkin an Honorary Degree Because of His Bigotry

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