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Why Responsible Teaching Matters: (Message from the National Indian Education Association, NIEA) “Recently, our nation has experienced an increase of public awareness and outcry regarding inconsistencies and misrepresentation in how the American public education system teaches about the history and resiliency of American Indian/Alaska Native/Native Hawaiians. Despite this increase and continued advocacy, our Native communities continue to see egregious stereotypes and mistruths shared in classrooms and media. To accomplish equity and a safe learning experience for all students, including Native students, we must be committed to supporting educators, parents, and community stakeholders by providing guidance, training, and resources, such as this document, for responsible and respectful teaching and representation in the classroom.”
The month of November is recognized in the U.S. as National Native American Heritage Month. We know that lesson plans for this month are already completed and ready to be taught in the classrooms. We would ask that those lesson plans do not include any stereotype caricatures of American Indians that would be colored or require students to dress up or make faux traditional clothing (Paper bag vests, headdresses with feathers, etc.). The use of feathers or certain types of clothing has sacred and significant meaning to Native American peoples. If you are concerned about whether your current Native American lesson plans/activities are appropriate please contact our school district’s Title VI Coordinator, Meredith Lam (firstname.lastname@example.org). Meredith oversees the American Indian/Alaska Native Education Program. Thank you!
Below are some additional resources that may be helpful:
- Smithsonian, National Museum of the American Indian
- Oklahoma City Public Schools
- Understanding Thanksgiving
- Utah Education Network (UEN)
- Scholastic Recommendations
- PBS Native American Heritage Month (Lesson Plans)
- Native Peoples Approved Books Recommendations
- BYU Native American Curriculum Initiative (Lesson Plans) Teach/Art & Culture/Native American | BYU Arts Partnership
- Native American Curriculum Initiative (NACI) standards based, tribal approved, elementary lesson plans, with a focus on Language Arts, Social Studies, and the Arts are available here.
- An approved Hoop Dance Language Arts and Music lesson plan is published here.
Thank you and happy National Native American Heritage Month!