BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — It’s a history lesson the first and second graders at Mabscott Elementary School aren’t likely to forget.
Doug Wood, a retired state biologist and living history interpreter, came to the school on Friday, November 17, 2023, as students anticipated the upcoming Thanksgiving break.
Wood brought his own method of teaching Native American history to the students. They were given first-hand looks at turtle shells, animal fur and artifacts – all legally obtained, the biologist emphasized.
Some children even had the chance to wear the fur.
“That was exciting for them. I tried to limit the amount of talking I did,” said Wood, after the presentation. “The bulk of what I did was to tell stories, and they like stories. If you tell the story properly, the bulk of children can relate themselves to the story.”
First grade teacher Cali Evans said staff invited Wood as a way of teaching how important it is for Americans to cooperate with one another.
“The Indians and the Pilgrims became friends and worked together so they could survive,” said Ms. Evans. “We just want our students to understand how important it is to work together, to learn about a culture and how everybody can be different, but we can all be together.”
Wood also wore a canary through a piercing in his nose, which was a common practice for Native American men, he explained.
For those students who may have thought big sisters and brothers invented body piercings, Wood set the record straight.
“It was common in the 17th and 18th century for Native American males to have their noses pierced and their ears pierced,” he said. “Ears sometimes, in the late 18th century, were slit from here, all the way around. The Northern Indians had it as an ancient custom, but the southern Indians borrowed that. It was sort of a fad among the southern Indians, in the late 18th century.”