As 2021 winds down (somehow??) and we turn our collective gaze to the holiday season, there’s a lot to focus on: holiday decorating, travel planning, gift-buying, more grocery shopping than usual, school events…the list goes on. This November, however, I invite all of us who are non-Native to consider focusing on something that may usually go underappreciated this time of year. Native American Heritage Month (also called American Indian Heritage Month) seeks to bring awareness to the incredible contributions that Indigenous Americans have made in our culture and world. It’s also a great opportunity to foster discussions with our children about Indigenous topics, and maybe even learn together about some misconceptions about “the first Thanksgiving.”
Here are some articles, lists of books, and other resources to help your kids (and yourself!) learn more about Indigenous people.
1.) Indigenous Voices for Little Ears: 15 Books About Native American Tradition and History for Children
3.) Native American Heritage Month on PBS: Take a look at Indigenous art, history, and culture as told through the historians, artists, students, and scientists in this featured resource collection.
4.) Explore this interactive map to learn more about the original Indigenous caretakers of the land you’re currently occupying.
5.) Plan a local field trip to the incredible Chucalissa Archaeological Museum to learn about the Indigenous people who originally lived the area currently known as Memphis. It’s a sure-fire hit with kids and adults alike!
6.) Seattle Times article with an interesting deep dive into what the first Thanksgiving was really like (spoiler alert: probably not what you were taught in school)
7.) If you’re into cooking, try exploring some new recipes shared by Indigenous folks. Maybe one of them can make an appearance as a Thanksgiving side dish!
8.) Here are three fun crafts which highlight Native food plants. These would be great activities for elementary school-aged kids.
Whatever way you choose to celebrate Native Americans this year (and every year), if you’re not Indigenous, remember to be respectful, keep an open mind and a willingness to learn, and be prepared to sit with some difficult or complicated feelings. Indigenous Americans deserve our utmost respect and gratitude, and it is a gift for us to learn from them.