Teaching about American Indian Peoples

What better way to teach about American Indian Peoples than invite contemporary American Indian Peoples into your classroom?

Teaching Tolerance recently published an article by Dr. Susan Faircloth, an enrolled member of the Coharie Tribe. She calls on educators and school leaders to become more responsive to Native children and families through her article, With and About: Inviting Contemporary American Indian Peoples Into the Classroom (Issue 56, Summer 2017).

An excerpt, “When American Indian parents and families speak out against culturally inappropriate practices and educators are open to the possibility of new ways of teaching, it benefits not only American Indian students but their peers as well. Professional development and training can help educators adopt culturally relevant practices, but—beyond changing the way we teach—this process also requires attitudinal change. One of the easiest ways to change attitudes is to get to know the families we serve, particularly those whose culture(s) may be different than our own. When educators take the time to do this, they find that American Indian families want what all families want: for (in the words of Dr. Debbie Reese [Nambe Pueblo]) “the air [our children] breathe, and the books that [they] read to nurture [them], not hurt them.” We want the schools American Indian children attend and the lessons they learn to nurture and honor them.”

Don’t just read an excerpt though, read the article! Then, share it with your colleagues and friends. Third, work with your school or library to plan curriculum or programming that adopts culturally relevant practices and broadened perspectives. This is an area in which we can all contribute!

A few more shares…

Are you living in the Great Lakes area of the United States and/or Canada? Make sure to check out The Ways to assist you and your students in gaining a better understanding of some of the Native peoples and communities in and around Wisconsin.

Are you specifically interested in critical reviews of children’s literature by or about American Indians? Check out Debbie Reese’s American Indians in Children’s Literature blog or Oyate’s website.

And finally, there is a wonderful piece titled, “Open Letter to Non-Indian Teacher,” that I first read it as part of the first pages of A Broken Flute: The Native Experience in Books for Children. Lucky for you, you can read it via Google Books (pages 8 and 9) or you can buy the book!

Your librarian,

Katelyn Martens-Rodriguez