In 1990, President George H. W. Bush designated November as National American Indian Heritage Month, also referred to as Native American Heritage Month. Months honoring marginalized people groups are important for bringing awareness of the stories of these people into mainstream consciousness. Of course, we want to celebrate Native American cultures and heritages all year round, and designating a month for this focus helps us to do that.
Last year as my oldest child turned school age, I began to re-educate myself on the history of the United States. My children’s curriculum began with studying the 1600s when people from England began to come over and establish settlements on the Eastern coast, the beginnings of what would become the colonies and eventually “The United States of America.”
The more I study, the more I realize how faulty it is to begin our studies there. Understanding 1607 to be the beginning of the U.S. completely leaves out all of the Hispanic histories here that predate 1607, and it especially leaves out all of the Native American tribes, nations, and civilizations that date back as far as 1200 BC.
My favorite place to start when I’m wanting to learn more about a subject is through books. Here are a few suggestions of book resources for parents and children to give you a fuller perspective of the history of the U.S. that includes the great contribution of Native American Heritages. Some of these I have read, and some are on my “to be read” list.
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This is a read for parents or high school age and above. Listen to the story of Pocahontas told through her people the Powhatan. This is the first written account of Pocahontas by her own people.
I first learned of this story from Kate Olsen of @thelittleloudlibrary on Instagram. She calls it “an incredibly moving and age-appropriate [for 11 to 12-year-olds] story about a child learning about Indian boarding schools from her grandmother.”
An environmental history of how the Nashua Indians worked with the European settlers to save the Nashua River from pollution and restore it to its natural beauty.
This is a great book that shows how the act of giving thanks is deeply rooted in Native American cultures.
Learn about the neat tradition of the Navajo called the First Laugh Ceremony. The first person to elicit a laugh from a newly born baby hosts the ceremony. Children can also read about Navajo names of family members. I found this one via hereweeread.com.
This book is a benchmark contribution to children’s non-fiction literature on the history of the Native American Heritages in U.S. history. It is so sobering to read, but also so essential.
What books will you be reading this November?
Welcome to our fifth annual celebration of Native American Heritage Month! Today our bloggers are sharing posts about teaching children about these rich cultures. See the list of participating blogs below, and don’t forget to link up your own posts as well! Don’t miss our series from last year, 2016, 2015, and 2014, plus you can find even more ideas on our Native/Indigenous Cultures Pinterest board:
For the Love of Spanish on Multicultural Kid Blogs: Books to Introduce Native American Heritage Month to Kids
Crafty Moms Share: A Look at Wampum and How It Is Made
Mommy Factor: PBS Native American DVD Highlights First Peoples of North and South America
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