It’s November and here in the United States it’s Native American Heritage Month. Thanksgiving also takes place on the third Thursday of the month. This year, it’s on November 24th. The National Congress for American Indians describes Native American History Month: “The month is a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people. Heritage Month is also an opportune time to educate the general public about tribes, to raise a general awareness about the unique challenges Native people have faced both historically and in the present, and the ways in which tribal citizens have worked to conquer these challenges.” At HistoryUnboxed® we understand that Native American History Month & Thanksgiving are deeply intertwined and we work to honor both the contributions, experiences, and challenges of Indigenous Peoples as well as their role in the history behind Thanksgiving, all while being true to the values of thankfulness & gratitude. We’ve put together a booklist featuring Native voices, historical resources exploring both the history and mythology of Thanksgiving, and kid friendly guides to the history and culture of Native Americans. Looking for even more resources? Check out our blog post on Native American History Month teaching resources.
Indigenous Voices & Traditions
Keepunumuk: Weeâchumun’s Thanksgiving Story
Keepunumuk: Weeachumun’s Thanksgiving Story by Danielle Greendeer. “The Thanksgiving story that most Americans know celebrates the Pilgrims. But without members of the Wampanoag tribe who already lived on the land where the Pilgrims settled, the Pilgrims would never have made it through their first winter. And without Weeâchumun (corn), the Native people wouldn’t have helped. An important picture book honoring both the history and tradition that surrounds the story of the first Thanksgiving.”
Ininatig’s Gift of Sugar by Laura Waterman Wittsock Describes the importance of the sugar maple to Indigenous Peoples and how knowledge is passed from generation to generation
Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith. “Lyrical text is paired with the warm, evocative watercolors of Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu in this affirming story of a contemporary Native American girl who turns to her family and community. The cone-shaped jingles sewn to Grandma Wolfe’s dress sing tink, tink, tink, tink…Jenna loves the tradition of jingle dancing that has been shared over generations in her family and intertribal community. She hopes to dance at the next powwow. But with the day quickly approaching, she has a problem–how will her dress sing if it has no jingles?
Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message by Chief Jake Swamp. “Giving Thanks is a special children’s version of the Thanksgiving Address, a message of gratitude that originated with the Native people of upstate New York and Canada and that is still spoken at ceremonial gatherings held by the Iroquois, or Six Nations. Full color.”
We Are Grateful/Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell. “The Cherokee community is grateful for blessings and challenges that each season brings. This is modern Native American life as told by an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation.”
Clambake: A Wampanoag Tradition by Russel M. Peters.Learn all about the Wampanoag traditional clambake.
Go Show the World by Way Kinew is a “tribute to historic and modern-day Indigenous heroes, featuring important figures such as Tecumseh, Sacagawea and former NASA astronaut John Herrington. Celebrating the stories of Indigenous people throughout time, Wab Kinew has created a powerful rap song, the lyrics of which are the basis for the text in this beautiful picture book, illustrated by the acclaimed Joe Morse.”
Explore the true story of the 1621 harvest feast known today as the First Thanksgiving
History Smashers: The Mayflower by Kate Messner. “Through illustrations, graphic panels, photographs, sidebars, and more, acclaimed author Kate Messner smashes history by exploring the little-known details behind the legends of the Mayflower and the first Thanksgiving. Kate Messner serves up fun, fast history for kids who want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”
1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving by Margaret M. Bruchac. “Countering the prevailing, traditional story of the first Thanksgiving, with its black-hatted, silver-buckled Pilgrims; blanket-clad, be-feathered Indians; cranberry sauce; pumpkin pie; and turkey, this lushly illustrated photo-essay presents a more measured, balanced, and historically accurate version of the three-day harvest celebration in 1621.”
The Mayflower Compact: by Phillip Brooks “describes the history of the Mayflower Compact, the first written document for government in the New World. Also explains the voyage of the Mayflower, the establishment of Plymouth, Massachusetts, and the first Thanksgiving.”
Teaching & Learning Resources
Colonial America: A History in Documents by Edward Gray. “By examining the lives of the colonists through their own words–in diaries, letters, sermons, newspaper columns, and poems–Colonial America: A History in Documents, Second Edition reveals how immigrants, despite their vast differences, laid the foundations for a new nation: the United States.”
Lessons from Turtle Island: Native Curriculum in Early Childhood Classrooms by Sally Moomaw. “he first complete guide to exploring Native American issues with children. The authors–one Native, one white, both educators–show ways to incorporate authentic learning experiences about Native Americans into your curriculum.”
A Kids Guide to Native American History: More than 50 Activities by Yvonne Wakim Dennis & Arlene Hirschfelder “Hands-on activities, games, and crafts introduce children to the diversity of Native American cultures and teach them about the people, experiences, and events that have helped shape America, past and present.”
An Indigenous People’s History of the United States for Young People by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. “Going beyond the story of America as a country “discovered” by a few brave men in the “New World,” Indigenous human rights advocate Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz reveals the roles that settler colonialism and policies of American Indian genocide played in forming our national identity. The original academic text is fully adapted by renowned curriculum experts Debbie Reese and Jean Mendoza, for middle-grade and young adult readers to include discussion topics, archival images, original maps, recommendations for further reading, and other materials to encourage students, teachers, and general readers to think critically about their own place in history.”
Do All Indians Live In Tipi’s? from the National Museum of the American Indian. “How much do you really know about totem poles, tipis, and Tonto? There are hundreds of Native tribes in the Americas, and there may be thousands of misconceptions about Native customs, culture, and history. In this illustrated guide, experts from Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian debunk common myths and answer frequently asked questions about Native Americans past and present. “
What books are on your November TBR list? Let us know in the comments!