Listen to this article here
PragerU, a right-wing propaganda series masquerading as an educational curriculum, depicts a cartoon version of Christopher Columbus teaching children that Indigenous people were savage cannibals.
PragerU, a nonprofit organization funded by few conservative donors, is pushing a white-washed version of history into public schools as far-right Republican governors in Florida and Oklahoma limit access to lessons on systemic racism and LGBTQ+ issues.
The organization has already faced widespread backlash for their lessons, which deny climate change and downplay atrocities against marginalized people. One of their lessons uses a cartoon version of Frederick Douglass to teach students that U.S. chattel slavery was no big deal because it led to the growth of the country.
Meanwhile, another PragerU lesson praising Christopher Columbus and demonizing Indigenous people has faced less public scrutiny.
In the video titled “Leo & Layla Meet Christopher Columbus”, cartoon characters express confusion about whether to celebrate the holiday as Indigenous Peoples Day or Columbus Day. Traveling back in time, they meet Columbus, who helps shape their perspective.
PragerU lesson downplays Christopher Culumbus’ murder and enslavement of Indigenous people
The cartoon Columbus acknowledges that his arrival to the Caribbean resulted in the enslavement and genocide of millions of Indigenous people.
“I heard you brought slavery and murder to peaceful people,” one of the PragerU cartoon children tells Columbus. He responds by saying the Indigenous people he met were far from peaceful.
Columbus claimed that some people, such as the Taino, were kind people. Yet he failed to add that he sold them as slaves for profit. Columbus then claims other Indigenous people he encountered were “vicious, warring cannibals.”
“Hey, all the things that are bad in the world I come from–jealousy, lying, murder, war–it all exists in the land I found, too. But in Europe we draw the line at things like eating people and human sacrifice.”
Notably, the PragerU video leaves out the fact that Columbus brought diseases with him, reducing the Indigenous population in Hispanola from an estimated 250,000 in 1492 to just 14,000 in 1517, according to the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.
Lessons lead to outrage
Jim Gray, former chief of the Osage Nation, described the video as “disgusting” in a social media post.
Oklahoma educators have responded in disgust as well.
“I’ve watched 3 PragerU videos now. If you favor erasure over facts when it comes to discussing human suffering, this is your jam,” said Rick Cobb, a 30-year educator in Midwest City.
Oklahoma is following Florida’s lead in offering the controversial “curriculum” as an option in public schools. It comes after both states have taken steps to limit or eliminate critical lessons about race in the classroom.
In Oklahoma, Republican State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters has faced calls for his impeachment as he continues to demonize public school educators, deny DEI and push PragerU in Oklahoma classrooms. In August, a video he retweeted on his government X account led to a week’s worth of school bomb threats in Tulsa.
Large school districts in the state have already said they will not be using the optional “curriculum,” but for those students who are exposed to the videos, they may grow up having a very different perspective.
The Black Wall Street Times reached out to Supt. Walters for comment. We did not immediately receive a response.
On Wednesday, when this reporter made a previous request for an interview with Walters regarding criticism of PragerU, his communications director at the Oklahoma State Dept. of Education said The Black Wall Street Times is now banned from interviews.
Meanwhile, as Walters continues to claim that educators are pushing “liberal indoctrination,” the founder of PragerU admitted indoctrination is exactly what it does.
“We bring doctrines to children. That is a very fair statement,” Dennis Prager said at a Moms for Liberty conference in July. “But what is the bad of our indoctrination?’”
The full PragerU video can be found below: