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Celebrating and Learning from Indigenous Peoples During Native American Heritage Month

Newsela Editorial
Nov 1, 2022

As students and teachers of history, the team at Newsela always appreciates how the past informs the present. We study the trials and celebrate triumphs of those that came before us, and we mark present moments knowing their future significance. This November, we’ll do the same as we recognize Native American Heritage Month. We have curated a set of texts and videos that will help teachers bring this month's celebration of Indigenous people and cultures in the United States - both past and present - into the classroom. 

As an introduction to Native American Heritage Month, we explore the ways tribes are keeping Indigenous studies current in schools.  We highlight the past accomplishments of Indigenous people like the Mohawk Skywalkers who helped build great structures, such as the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings and Nicole Aunapu Mann, the first Indigenous woman in space. We acknowledge the past and ongoing efforts of Indigenous activists through exploration of the fight for the reclamation of land rights with the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, as well as the Indigenous movements for self-determination of the 1960’s and 70’s and the current fight Indigenous youth are leading against climate change. 

Students will learn how Native Americans have contributed to major achievements in the arts and sciences, from key inventions to storytelling and poetry and will have the opportunity to read some indigenous literature first-hand, such as the poetry of Carlos Montezuma

Students and teachers can also watch Newsela’s panel from earlier this year featuring U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo–the first Native American to be named Poet Laureate–in which she shares her ground-breaking career journey and inspiration for her work.

It is our hope that by engaging in the content curated for Native American Heritage Month, all learners will not only gain an understanding and appreciation for indigenous cultures, either their own or others’, but will also recognize the impacts of Native American individuals and communities on the world we live in today. We hope this content truly celebrates the heritage and cultures of Indigenous Nations as their history reaches deep into the past and their inspiring stories and current work inform our present and future. For all the lessons included in the Native American Heritage Month text set, visit Newsela

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