This month is American Indian & Alaska Native Heritage Month and so a slew of resources will be available to educators. The tricky part is figuring out what resources are good to use. From the internet to literature, one needs to be aware of what authentic resources exist vs. unauthentic. Misrepresentations of other cultures appear all over—sadly though, American Indians are some of the most commonly portrayed incorrectly, at least in the U.S.
This may appear to be a tough task at first, but you have more eyes than you realize—in fact, I wager some of you have at least 20 pairs willing to help you out. That’s right. Your students…put those critical thinking skills to work! Not only will they be working their brains in that function, but they will be learning about another culture and the stereotypes that occur. Students are given the power to critique published pieces and verify their authenticity or debunk them—pretty sweet! I believe in this idea so much, that my thesis involves this topic.
Just remember, when looking up American Indian groups, you can start big by looking up a Nation (identifies the region of the U.S. they are located), but then you should narrow down your search to a specific tribe. Tribes have their own cultures and therefore, identities.
I do have some sites that can help you:
Debbie Reese’s blog, American Indians in Children’s Literature—Debbie Reese is the go to lady for this topic, her site offers reviews of individual books, as well as articles
Reese recommends this website, which lists all the tribally owned sites, Native American Nations.
Oyate—this site offers a guide and questions to help the reader judge literature and a catalog of literature they approve.
National Museum of the American Indian Collections Search—This Smithsonian site will let you search art collections by Peoples/Cultures, Artists/Individuals, Places, and Object Specifics. They even offer a companion site to their exhibit, Native Words Native Warriors.
Library of Congress Native American Heritage Month site—gives small history about the month and features exhibits & collections, audio and video.
NCTE’s ReadWriteThink site offers many lessons for educators.