“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” — Benjamin Franklin
At a time when Native Americans walked the hills of Anderson County, sometimes the only meal available came dressed in brown fur, with a side of horns.
Students participating in the Texas Afterschool Centers for Education (TACE) program discovered this readily Thursday, during a hands-on activity organized by local historian and Palestine Junior High teacher Norris White.
White took the students back to a time when man had to hunt to eat and explained how the Texas Indians — once the county's prime population — wielded spear throwers to take down their steak of choice, the buffalo.
White held up what looked like a long stick with a handle and hook on the end, a spear thrower that these Indians used, called the ‘atlatl’ (rhymes with cattle, pronounced “atal-atal”). The atlatl preceded the bow and arrow in most parts of the world and was one of humankind’s first mechanical inventions.
White instructed students to cast it like a fishing rod, and “then follow through” — lest “we don't eat tonight.”
Students lined up about 20 feet from their target — a hay bale covered in red and white balloons.
To make Thursday's history lesson that much sweeter, White told the students that hitting a white balloon would win them a free T-shirt, while a red balloon would turn into $50 cash.
He had their attention.
Larissa Loveless, public relations director for Palestine Independent School District, said community members donated funds for the T-shirts and prizes.
“You've got community members that are working, and you’ve got retired teachers that are coming in,” she said of the TACE program. White, who also works to educate through programs of the Texas Parks and Wildlife, was one such community member, she said — and this semester he'll be teaching at PISD regularly.