November is Native American Heritage Month.
In our American history boxes, we talk about the role of Native Americans in every box. It's only right. We need to talk about Native American history all year long, but next month is a perfect time of year to do a deep dive. Here are some resources for appropriate and respectful study.
Discussing appropriate terminology:
When discussing Native American cultures, it is always best to use the specific name of the group or nation you are talking about. If you are discussing multiple groups, preferences vary. There is no single answer to which term is best. Read the opinions of six Native Americans to learn more about preferences within the Native American community.
Talk about modern Native Americans as well as the distant past.
Go Show the World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes by Wab Kinew (Midewin) tells the stories of Indigenous heroes past and present in a beautifully illustrated picture book.
Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee/Creek) is a picture book about a modern little girl who wants to be a jingle dancer at a powwow. One of the characters is a lawyer. It’s a wonderful book for showing that Native Americans are still here. (The image in our graphic features a jingle dress. Jingle dancers originally came from the Ojibwe nation, but the tradition has spread and is now considered pan-Indian).
Do All Indians Live in Tipis? Second Edition: Questions and Answers from the National Museum of the American Indian is filled with essays, mostly by Native authors, answering common questions and debunking myths.
Learn from Native American educators
Kelly Tudor is a Lipan Apache home educator and educational consultant on Native education. She teaches classes on Outschool and reviews curriculum.
Kelly collaborated with Samantha Matalone Cook on a post about Teaching Native American History.
I spoke with Kelly Tudor about teaching history on our YouTube channel.
Debbie Reese runs a blog called American Indians in Children’s Literature. She is a Nambo Pueblo Indian woman. She reviews books by and about American Indians (her preferred term) and is extremely thorough. It’s an excellent resource to determine if books are accurate, appropriate, and respectful.
Use Culturally Respectful Materials
A Kid’s Guide to Native American History by Yvonne Wakim Dennis and Arelene Hirschfelder has culturally respectful hands-on activities and historically accurate information.
Learn About Your Area
Native Land tells you which Indigenous peoples inhabited different areas. Search for cultural events from Native American cultural centers and groups in your area. Visit Native-run museums or the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.
Many of us learned inaccurate or harmful information about Native Americans in school. Here are some resources for high school and adult education:
Lessons from Turtle Island: Native Curriculum in Early Childhood Classrooms by Guy W. Jones (Hunkpapa Lakota) and Sally Moomaw is an important read about how to teach Native American issues as well as making classrooms inclusive and welcoming to Native children. It's relevant for home educators too!
An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz is part of the Revisioning History series and an excellent reference for the study of history. There is also a Young People’s Edition, better for older students. All the Real Indians Died Off, also by Dunbar-Ortiz, addresses common misconceptions.
Engage in respectful hands-on activities
Be cautious about recreating cultural items that might have religious significance. We've done the planning for you in our Powhatan box. Read about the history of the Powhatan Confederacy, learn about the Three Sisters, and more. Our box features artwork by Kanien'keha:ka (Mohawk) artist Laticia McNaughton. Come learn with us!