National American Indian Heritage Month (G) is recognized each November as a time to learn more about the history and heritage of Native American peoples. These resources provide strategies to explore Native American literature and heritage in your own classroom.
Many people think that Native Americans are a vanished people—that they do not exist in the present day. In the lesson plan “Native Americans Today” (E), teachers use photo essays and other texts to introduce students to Native children and their families, thereby countering the idea that Native people no longer exist. Students then compare and contrast their ideas about Native Americans at the beginning of the lesson with what they now know. The Language Arts article "Proceed with Caution: Using Native American Folktales in the Classroom" (E) explains the importance of selecting texts that include realistic and accurate presentations of Native American peoples. The article includes guidelines for evaluating and selecting Native American literature.
Examine two speeches by Shawnee Chief Tecumseh with the ReadWriteThink lesson Battling for Liberty: Tecumseh's and Patrick Henry's Language of Resistance (M) and ask students to consider Tecumseh's politically effective and poetic use of language. This lesson extends the study of Patrick Henry's "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" speech to demonstrate the ways Native Americans also resisted oppression through rhetoric.
The book, Roots and Branches: A Resource of Native American Literature, (M-S) offers teachers an opportunity to learn and teach about Native American literatures in context. It includes lessons, units, and activities keyed to grade level. Additionally there are detailed annotated bibliographies to direct the teacher to a wealth of additional resources. "Contemporary American Indian Life in The Owl's Song and Smoke Signals" (S) from English Journal explores how to teach the novel and film together in a unit that "paints a realistic picture of contemporary American Indian life" while inviting students to identify with protagonists who grow in both self-awareness and their appreciation of others. The English Journal article "Hoop Dancing: Literature Circles and Native American Storytelling" (S-C) explores strategies teachers can use to address the misrepresentations of Indian culture through the study of Native American oral traditions and literatures.
Reading Native American Literature (S-C) is ideal for high school and college teachers who want to teach units or courses on Native American literature. The book includes primary material provided in appendixes that can be photocopied for classroom use.
Do you have additional suggestions? We'd love to hear them!