The Native American Experience
Social Justice Learning: early childhood
Today's Lesson: The Native American Experience
Native American Heritage Month has evolved from its beginnings as "American Indian Week” in 1986—just a week-long celebration over the Thanksgiving holiday—to now a month-long celebration of the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, histories, and important contributions of Native people. This is also an opportune time to educate ourselves on the distinctive set of challenges American Indians and Alaska Natives still face today. While these conversations can be complex—and often we don’t know where to begin—we believe beginning with our littlest ones can have the most long-term impact, both individually and as a society. We hope you will find the resources below helpful.
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Learning LevelsEarly Childhood Adolescent Adult
This Land is My Land
In his own words and paintings, acclaimed Native American artist George Littlechild takes young readers back in time to the first meeting between his Plains Cree ancestors and the first European settlers in North America. Through inspiring autobiographical stories accompanied by vivid, dramatic paintings, This Land is My Land recounts the history of his people and their relationship to the land, relating their struggles and triumphs with sensitivity, irony, and humor.
EXTRA CREDIT: For centuries, Indigenous Peoples have been intentionally silenced and invisibilized; their stories stolen and hidden. It is more important than ever to read books written by and about Indigenous Peoples highlighting their heritage, cultural pride, and strength. Here are eight #OwnVoices books to honor and celebrate Native heritage not only this month, but year-round, from PBS Parents!
Explore Alaska Native history and culture in "Grandpa's Drum” from the PBS KIDS series MOLLY OF DENALI. In this episode, an old photograph sends Molly and friend Tooey on a mission to find out why Grandpa Nat no longer sings or plays his drum. As they uncover Grandpa's past, using visual clues and the internet, they understand more about their own heritage and the importance of cultural identity.
EXTRA CREDIT: In this video from Let's Learn, author Kevin Nobel Maillard reads Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story, a book celebrating Native American Culture. After reading, he and his two children create fry bread using playdough.
Molly of Denali Podcast
Part of understanding of what it means to be a Native person in our country is gaining a better understanding of the stories, contributions, dances, family traditions, music, and experiences of Alaska Natives. The Molly of Denali podcast is an extension of the hit PBS KIDS series and follows Molly Mabray, an Alaska Native girl, growing up with her parents, her dog Suki, and friends Tooey and Trini. Molly and the gang help us discover what life is like for a typical kid on big adventures in Alaska!