Resources about Native America
February 27, 2012 12:04 PM   Subscribe

Help me find resources for elementary age children regarding the modern Native American experience.

As a parent of a elementary school kid in Brooklyn, NY with extended family in Oklahoma of Cherokee heritage, I am concerned that the combination of prevalent cultural imagery, and curriculum on "Native American history" has already taught my small kid that Native Americans are from the past and don't actually exist anymore. The only curriculum her school has planned through 6th grade is all pre-industrial history. I have to keep reminding her about Aunt Dorothy...

So, do you all know of any resources to help counteract these prevalent messages? I am interested in books, movies, etc., that I can show my kiddo, but I also have some buy-in from her school to share such information more widely - so I would very much like to hear suggestions about organizations, curriculum, guest speakers or teachers that might help her class learn about the more than five million Native American people alive and well today.
posted by RajahKing to Education (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Have you made a visit to the National Museum of the American Indian branch in Bowling Green, first? That may be a place to start.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:09 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Check out the resources at Plimoth Plantation. Their Wampanoag program has a wide variety of options, both onsite and off. This is the page for schools that are more than three hours away from their site.
posted by Melismata at 12:34 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

American Indians in Children's Literature is an absolutely essential site, as is

Louise Erdrich's trilogy about a young Ojibwe girl in the 19th century is great on its own terms, and a significant counter-narrative to the Little House on the Prairie books. And Sherman Alexie has written marvelous stuff for teens.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:54 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

FYI - something funky happened to Sidhedevil's first link somehow; corrected link is here.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:01 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

You could drive to the Pequot casino and museum althought the Pequot experience is radically different from anyone living in Oklahoma or the Dakotas.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:01 PM on February 27, 2012

Speaking of Ojibwe, APM's Speaking of Faith (now it's On Being) did a show a few years ago about the importance of language, and efforts to create a full grammar. There is some beautiful storytelling in it.

You might also head to a powwow in your area - looks like there's one coming up in May.
posted by jquinby at 1:12 PM on February 27, 2012

I did a presentation for Grade 3 kids last year as coursework for an Aboriginal Studies course. I had great success with some of the resources on this page: AANDC Kid's Stop.

It is a Canadian resource, but I think its' tactic of presenting 'success stories' to be really amazing and hopeful for all ages. It also has information on historical communities, both pre and post contact.
posted by deadtrouble at 1:14 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ah, found another event in town: Drums Along The Hudson
posted by jquinby at 1:16 PM on February 27, 2012

Aside from all these (good but admittedly mostly regional) resources listed so far, is there any reason you can't visit these relatives in OK?
posted by elizardbits at 1:34 PM on February 27, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you for all of this

To clarify this question a bit, I'm really most interested in resources that can be used in classrooms, and by classes. Its more than just my child, I'd like a lot of the kids in her school to have a chance to think about modern Native American life and culture.

(We can, and do, visit our relatives, but they don't wear buckskins and dance around fires most days, so its hard to convince her they are "real Indians".)
posted by RajahKing at 2:03 PM on February 27, 2012 does workshops with schools, and they can also recommend other providers. Montana State University's Indian Education for All has a lot of resources focusing on elementary classroom education.

It is breaking my heart to hear that your daughter is getting such a high myth to truth ratio about her own heritage from her schools!
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:12 PM on February 27, 2012

The NMAI has a portion of their web page devoted to ideas for lesson plans in schools. One of the programs available for download is something about the Code Talkers in World War II, which is a damn awesome historical tale in and of itself (and was only just declassified a few years ago).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:35 PM on February 27, 2012

Teaching Tolerance (educational subsite of the Southern Poverty Law Centre) has a very good selection of teacher/parent guides for activities around the topic of Native Americans. You can filter further by grade level.

[weird O/T: Why does it ask if I meant "negative American" instead of "Native American?!? They might want to fix that.]

TT is a great site--I used to use it a lot when I did anti-racism education work in elementary schools.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:45 PM on February 27, 2012

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