November is National American Indian Heritage Month, and it’s also known as American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. It is the perfect time to celebrate the histories, cultures, and traditions of American Indians. If you’re looking for resources to support your students’ studies, you’re in luck! There are plenty out there, and The Walking Classroom is a great place to start!
Begin with Biographies . . .
It’s easy to learn about many famous figures in American Indian history. First, pick a podcast, then begin walking, listening, and learning! There’s plenty to discover!
Meet Lewis & Clark and Sacajawea (5-#35, Combined-#100). As Lewis and Clark explored the Pacific Northwest, Sacajawea, a Shoshone interpreter and guide, helped them on their journey.
The noted Nez Pearce leader, Chief Joseph (4-#88, Combined-#110), met Lewis and Clark on their travels. Later, he led his people in the Nez Pearce War. Another tribal leader, a Shawnee named Tecumseh (5-#36, Combined-#101), wanted to unite American Indian tribes. Along with a group of them, Tecumseh allied with the British during the War of 1812.
Sequoyah (5-#37, Combined-#102), was a Cherokee metalworker from eastern Tennessee. He is known for inventing the Cherokee syllabary. With its 85 characters, it became the Cherokee writing system!
Look at Life on the Land or Reach for the Stars!
There are other interesting American Indian topics to explore too! Discover the Native American Mound Builders (4-#72, Combined-#96). This group settled in the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys. If you are fascinated by their work, extend your study with a lesson about other types of Native American structures.
Wondering what took some of the eastern tribes west? Learn about the removal of American Indians from their homelands. Listen to Trail of Tears (5-#40, Combined-#105). Afterward, continue with a video or engage in a follow-up activity.
Next, move from the land to studying the sky! Hear about Native American Constellations (4-#67, Combined-#146). Afterward, try something different! Sample some American Indian legends or incorporate several supplemental activities.
Have your students write their own American Indian legend. They can even design a constellation to go along with it. Make it fun! Provide black construction paper and milky gel pens for students to use in creating their final product.
Take Your Study South!
Go south, and investigate the native cultures of Central and South America. Try one (or all!) of this trio of podcasts.
- The Maya (4-#69, Combined-#57) lived in what is now modern-day Mexico and Central America.
- The Aztec (4-#70, Combined-#58) made their home in central Mexico.
- The Inca (4-#71, Combined-#59) settled in the Andes Mountains of South America.
Resources from National Sources . . .
Looking for additional supplemental materials? Have no fear! Free resources are in abundance! Use primary sources from the National Archives, or discover artifacts from different tribes with a virtual visit to the National Museum of the American Indian.
Hit the road to see historic places with the help of the National Park Service. Have your students step back in time by visiting sites connected with the Trail of Tears or Lewis and Clark’s expedition.
Road trip not possible? Let your students chart their own course on a self-made map. They could also do a little research and create a historically-based journal or a scrapbook of mementos from their “journey”!
. . . and Activities across Curricular Areas!
Need some different things to try? There are plenty! Dig deeper and learn about the history behind National American Indian Heritage Month. Or engage your students in other activities. They are sure to enjoy dramatizing folktales, learning new words, or preparing traditional foods!
You can even cross curricular lines! Mix in some math, with a study of Maya time. Or add in some art! Have your students build a Native American structure, or let them design a board game. Even better? Take a cue from adopter Kathleen Butler’s class. Create paper dolls (photos at right) dressed in tribal costumes! All of these are great ways for them to show off their newfound knowledge.
With The Walking Classroom, there’s always something to explore! Learn about other timely topics and more ideas in future posts.
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