Resources available to teachers during Native American Heritage Month
November is Native American Heritage Month, and the Indiana Learning Lab and other organizations have resources for schools and educators who want to discuss Native American history and contributions in their classrooms.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources said Indiana was home to many Native American tribes like the Potawatomie, Shawnee, Delaware and Kickapoo before their removal in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Data from the Indiana Department of Education shows that a little more than 22,000 Indiana students identified as Native American during the 2020-2021 school year. And the DNR said more than 100 tribes and cultural groups are still present today throughout Indiana.
Eric Hinkle is the education services coordinator at Eiteljorg Museum. He said it is important to talk about Native American culture because it is part of many people’s histories.
“These are living cultures, and folks who are present in all of our communities right now,” he said.
The museum has an education hub with resources in the top right-hand corner of its website. The resources include projects for children and lessons by featured Native American artists from the Great Lakes region.
The lessons feature art like beading, ceramics, textiles, jewelry and paintings.
“Native peoples, like all peoples, are the authority about their experiences and stories,” the website said. “When seeking out material to include in your classroom curriculum, scout event, or after school program, look for resources written and produced by and in collaboration with Indigenous peoples.”
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The Indiana Learning Lab also has resources for teachers from the National Museum of the American Indian on its website. Additionally, it provides information about Native American history and contributions on Google slide decks.
NativeAmericanHeritageMonth.gov is another resource for educators who want to incorporate Native American history and culture into their lessons. The website contains a teacher’s guide with lesson plan ideas that incorporate Native American culture and perspective on historical events. It also contains a guide to investigating local history.
One set of lesson plans center around the Hopi Tribe, a sovereign nation located in Arizona. The lessons explore Hopi culture and traditions as they examine the tribe’s geographical homeland, study poetry and figurative language, and teach how corn was used as a symbol in Hopi songs and dances.
Hinkle said anyone with questions about Native American history or culture can reach out to Eiteljorg Museum.
“Challenge the standards and traditional curriculum if necessary,” the Eiteljorg’s website said. “Include contemporary voices in your curriculum to ensure students understand that Native peoples are a vital part of our communities today and are a part of our shared future.”