With the Thanksgiving holiday coming up, it’s essential to take time to reflect on the complexities of the day, its meaning, and its history.
As with many holidays, Thanksgiving represents something very different to each person. These resources are gathered to help educators with tools and resources to support students and young people in understanding those differences better.
Native American history is American history. By recognizing the contributions of those who first inhabited this land, we can learn lessons about the past and how much promise lies before us. This is especially important for our students, who have consistently shared their desire to see a positive representation of contributions from people of all backgrounds.
The following resources will support educators in accessing culturally-relevant and respectful learning experiences in the classroom. These resources are vetted to support K-12 educators and administrators to learn about Thanksgiving and can be used throughout the year to create spaces that are inclusive, respectful, and honor American Indian Peoples.
Five Ways to Support Thanksgiving Learning
Access California Indian Education for All Educator Resources
California Indian Education for All is a statewide partnership dedicated to helping teachers and schools educate youth about the diverse histories, cultures and contributions of California Native peoples. Learn about the land you live on, oppression and privilege, the history of colonization, and California Indian Peoples and cultures, and continue the process of acting in solidarity with American Indians.
- CIEFA Classroom Resources
- SDCOE American Indian Education webpage and information about the Native American Studies Model Curriculum led by SDCOE and the Humboldt County Office of Education
- Native Ways of Knowing Webinar Series
- Native Ways of Knowing Micro-Courses
Land Acknowledgements and Building Relationships with Tribes
Gain insight into Native Ways of Knowing for our Indigenous lands and learn how to honor and acknowledge the original nations on whose land we live, learn, and work with the California Indian Culture and Sovereignty Center Land Acknowledgment Toolkit. Acknowledging the land is a transformative act that works to undo the intentional erasure of indigenous peoples and is the first step in decolonizing land relations.
Work with a Tribe Near Your School and Respectfully Invite Elders to Visit
Use this interactive online mapping tool for locating California federally recognized tribes, California Department of Education-funded American Indian education centers, and local education agencies.
Watch an Award-Winning Native American Film
Access award-winning Native media, films, and documentaries that share Native perspectives with the world.
Learn About Food Sovereignty
Think about what you eat for Thanksgiving dinner. How did these foods come to you? Consider buying American Indian foods from local tribes and businesses.
Resources to Honor Native American Culture Year-Round
Dr. Debbie Reese’s Highlighted Resources
Dr. Debbie Reese’s American Indians in Children’s Literature provides critical perspectives and analysis of indigenous peoples in children’s and young adult books, the school curriculum, popular culture, and society.
- Tips for Teachers: Developing Instructional Materials about American Indians
- Critical Indigenous Literacies: Selecting and Using Children’s Books about Indigenous Peoples
- An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People
- American Indians in Children’s Literature
- “Debbie, can you recommend some books about Thanksgiving?”
- AICL Best Books Page
Books by Native American Writers
American Indians in Children’s Literature provides a critical analysis of Indigenous peoples in children’s and young adult books. Educators can access vetted children’s books by Native writers and explore culturally responsive texts that improve representations and classroom climates for teaching about Native Americans.
- Heartdrum Educator Guide
- NIEA Recommended Book List
- First Nations Native Reads Recommended Book List
- AICL Best Books Page
Native American Authored and Vetted Lessons
These resources are highlighted by various state departments of education, school districts, and other public agencies.
- A Story of Survival: The Wampanoag and the English (Oklahoma City Public Schools)
- 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving lesson plan (Montana Office of Public Instruction)
- Teaching Thanksgiving in a Socially Responsible Way (Learning for Justice)
- Thanksgiving Mourning (Learning for Justice)
- Plague in Indigenous Patuxet, 1616 – 1619 (PBS Learning Media)
Seven Essential Understandings for California Indian History and Culture
There is great diversity among the 150+ tribes of California in their languages, cultures, histories, and governments. Each tribe has a distinct and unique cultural heritage that contributes to modern California.
- 7 Essential Understandings for California Indian History and Culture
- 6Ps: Approaches to California Indian Education for All
Native Land Website
Educators can use the Native Land website and the CICSC Land Acknowledgement Toolkit to interact with maps of indigenous lands and languages. Note: The map may not be updated to the current tribal lands for your region.
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