How To Celebrate National Native American Heritage Month
The Classroom

How To Celebrate National Native American Heritage Month in the Classroom

Newsela Editorial
Nov 1, 2023

At Newsela, we appreciate how the past informs our present. We know that teachers strive to show their students the trials and celebrate the triumphs of those who came before them in all aspects of history. Plus, we know students need to see themselves, their families, and their cultures represented across all subjects they learn in school. That’s why we’ve curated content sets in all our subject products specifically to help you recognize National Native American Heritage Month in your classrooms this November. Use the articles, videos, novel studies, and interactive activities to help your students explore the rich history—both past and present—of Indigenous people and cultures of the United States:

Learn more about Indigenous history and culture with Newsela Social Studies

Bring Indigenous history to life in your classroom with these curated social studies lessons:

Indigenous culture

Each Indigenous culture is unique in its ideas, beliefs, and customs. Highlight these differences and similarities in your classrooms by using the Cultural Celebration and Preservation text set.

  • Explore Indigenous groups in the United States with an interactive map activity.

  • See how Native American women are making sure museums accurately depict their culture in historical exhibits

  • Use primary sources to see how several cities across the United States made the change from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day to honor Native Americans and their heritage.

Native American history

Indigenous people have played a role in many of the most pivotal and influential moments in American history. Use our Indigenous Peoples Throughout History text set to explore some of their most noted contributions. 

  • Dig deeper into the Native American tribes of the United States by region.

  • See how the Mohawk Nation helped build some of New York City’s most iconic buildings.

  • Discover how Native languages helped the U.S. win World War II in the Pacific.

Indigenous activism

Those in Indigenous groups have fought for their rights for years, and continue to do so today. Use the Indigenous Activism text set to help students understand the causes that Native American activists support and what they’re doing to make their voices heard. 

  • Show your class a video about Zitkála-Šá—an activist, author, and educator—who fought against the Americanization of Native nations at the turn of the 20th century.

  • Read an article about how Indigenous Americans fight every 10 years to be counted correctly in the U.S. census.

  • Discover how a high school student from the Paiute Tribe fought for a Utah statewide policy to allow Indigenous students to wear their cultural regalia at school ceremonies.

Native American trailblazers

Indigenous people have contributed to all areas of our collective culture, including politics, education, and athletics. Use the Leaders and Trailblazers text set to explore their successes and achievements in all these areas and more.

  • Have students read about Lynn Malerba, the first Native American Treasurer of the United States.

  • Show a video about Jim Thorpe, a Native American Olympic hero and the only athlete to ever play pro baseball, football, and basketball in his career rather than committing to just one sport.

  • Learn about Chuck Sams III, the first Indigenous director of the National Park Service, and how his culture influences his role.

Read the best from Indigenous writers with Newsela ELA

Explore National Native American Heritage Month through more than just articles and videos with our ELA resources:

National Native American Heritage Month novel studies

Discover true stories and fictional tales based on real-life experiences with some of our top Indigenous novel studies

  • Chester Nez and the Unbreakable Code: A Navajo Code Talker’s Story” by Joseph Bruchac

  • The Trail of Tears” by Joseph Bruchac

  • The Birchbark House” by Louise Erdrich

  • Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie

  • There There” by Tommy Orange

Indigenous poetry

Introduce students to rhyme and verse with a collection of poems by Native American writers:

  • Autumn” by Alexander Posey

  • A Song of a Navajo Weaver” by Bertrand N.O. Walker

  • Grace” by Joy Harjo

  • Changing Is Not Vanishing” by Carlos Montezuma

Students and teachers can also watch Newsela’s panel discussion featuring former U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo—the first Native American to hold the position—in which she shares her ground-breaking career journey and inspiration for her work.

Explore how Indigenous people influenced science with Newsela Science

Help students see the impact Native Americans have had on the scientific community with these curated resources:

Indigenous representation in science

From outer space to climate change to conservation, Indigenous people contribute to exploring and protecting our world in a big way. Use the Science Articles for Indigenous Representation text set to discover what areas they’ve contributed to.

  • Explore the Lakota Sioux’s spiritual connection to the sun and stars and how the orientation of the cosmos influences their cultural ceremonies.

  • Learn about the career of Nicole Aunapu Mann, the first Indigenous woman in space.

  • Find out why bison have cultural significance to the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes and see what they’re doing to preserve and restore herds of the animals in their areas. 

Level up your lessons with real-time assessments

We hope that engaging your students with content curated for Native American Heritage Month helps them understand and appreciate Indigenous cultures and recognize the impact that Native Americans have on the world we live in today.

Do you want to make sure they have the background knowledge to understand these topics or are building comprehension skills while they read? Take advantage of the new Newsela + Formative integration that’s now live! Read our blog post about the integration to learn how you can start making the most of it in all your classrooms today!

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