Thanksgiving is almost here and so is another opportunity to create a Thanksgiving that is filled with gratitude, love and lessons on perseverance, strength and community. It is a great time for our children to learn about the Native Americans who gave birth to this great country and to learn about their thriving cultures that existed for thousands of years prior to the arrival of colonists. It is important to give thanks to the people who came before us, for without them the pilgrims would never have survived.
Native American history is American history. We cannot correctly learn American History without including indigenous populations that are often left to holidays and random days.
What can you do at home to educate your children about Native American culture and history to teach accurate history?
Start where you are. What native populations lived or live where you are now? What local resources are near you such as museums and historical societies ?
I’m in Northern New Jersey where the Lenape once lived. When I take my kids to local parks, like Brookdale Park, I remind them that the large oval they’re skating around was once where the Lenape used to hold their community meetings. We walk and talk along various trails where the Lenape had thrived and try to imagine ourselves there.
We visit the Essex County Environmental Center to see a physical set up of how they once lived and used the land responsibly for future generations. Our local Montclair Art Museum has a fantastic collection of Native American Art as well as classes incorporating semesters devoted to teaching about their art and culture. The information is out there and waiting for your family.
The Smithsonian has shared great resources that you can find here: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/blogs/national-museum-american-indian/2020/11/14/five-ideas-teach-thanksgiving/
Here is a link for highly rated films to watch on Native Americans. https://tribalcollegejournal.org/five-native-films-and-shows-you-should-be-streaming-in-2020/
Looking for a few great books as well? Here is a great list by Mighty Girl: https://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=10365 and by First Nations https://www.firstnations.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Revised_Book_Insert_Web_Version_March_2018.pdf
You can learn more about Jamestown here: https://amp.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/article24463288.html
Happy Thanksgiving to you and all those you love!