National Writing Project

Resources for National Native American Heritage Month

By: Art Peterson
Date: November 1, 2011

Summary: The National Writing Project has gathered articles from its archives and suggested relevant websites to help teachers celebrate November's National Native American Heritage Month.


November's National Native American Heritage Month, first designated in 1990 by a joint resolution of Congress and approved by President George Bush, has been a long time coming.

It was early in the last century that Dr. Arthur Parker, a Seneca Indian and the director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, New York, persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to set aside a day to recognize the "First Americans," a tradition that lasted for three years.

Then in 1915 Red Fox James, a Blackfeet Indian, rode horseback from state to state collecting signatures for the establishment of a day honoring American Indians. James presented his petition from twenty-four states to Congress, but no action was taken.

Now recognized annually, November is a time to learn more about the history and heritage of Native American peoples.

The National Writing Project has long supported the many sites and teacher-consultants who work with Native American students. The articles and resources listed below represent a piece of the work that our organzation is doing with this population.

ELL Library American Indian Reference/Resource "Must-Haves"

The goal of this annotated bibliography is to provide materials that alter teachers' understanding of Native American cultures and build local communities of inquiry devoted to Native American Studies. More ›

Indian Education for All: Grounded in Place and Culture

In Maine and Montana, Writing Project sites are exploring how to help teachers implement state laws regarding Indian education and improve the writing of Native American learners. More ›

Writing from the Feather Circle: Seeking a "Language of That Different Yield"

G. Lynn Nelson reflects on how the Native American "feather circle" practice has affected his teaching of writing. "When it is your turn to speak, you hold the feather in your hand; you . . . speak from your heart." More ›

Sherman Alexie in the Classroom

Sherman Alexie in the Classroom, a volume in the National Council of Teachers of English's (NCTE) High School Literature Series, examines ways to teach the works of Alexie, who is widely considered today's premiere Native American writer. Heather Bruce, director of the Montana Writing Project, coauthored the book. More ›

Honoring the Word: Classroom Instructors Find That Students Respond Best to Oral Tradition"

Michael Thompson, a teacher-consultant with the Bisti Writing Project (New Mexico), interviews teachers of native students who contrast the oral tradition of native culture with the rhetorical structures of western writing. This article won a gold in the Society of National Association Publishers' "Magazines–Feature Article, 10,000 or fewer" category. More ›

Why We Are Sticking To Our Stories

Tina Deschenie, a teacher-consultant with the Bisti Writing Project (NM), discusses the value of storytelling in her native family. This article won a bronze in the "Magazines-Editorial" category from the Society of National Association Publishers. More ›

Place-Based Poetry, One Step at a Time

Ann Gardner's Native American student, who had never seen a free-form poem, writes successfully in free-form style when he is exposed to works in this mode and led through a revision one step at a time, drawing images from his reservation environment. More ›

The Writing Project on the Navajo Reservation

Greg Larkin, a former site director of the Northern Arizona Writing Project, discusses his work with teachers and students in schools covering a range of economic and social parameters. More ›

The E-Anthology Helps Create a Space for Access, Relevance, and Diversity

The 2007 E-Anthology gave members of the Blackfeet tribe in Montana a venue for telling their stories—which sparked an empowering dialogue among sites across the NWP network. More ›

Other Resources

Native American Heritage Month Official Website

The Library of Congress, the National Archives and Records Administration, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, the Smithsonian Institution, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans with these resources. More ›

Smithsonian Institution Resources

Each year, the Smithsonian honors American Indian Heritage Month with a calendar full of activities and teaching materials relevant to honoring Native Americans. More ›

ReadWriteThink: National American Indian Heritage Month Resources

Find a variety of classroom activities, lesson plans for different grade levels, and Web resources at ReadWriteThink. More ›

¡Colorín Colorado! Resources

¡Colorín Colorado! salutes the rich history and culture of the American Indian tribes with games, books, activities, and fun. More ›

Great Sites For Teaching About: Native Americans

Education World compiled these websites to help educators work Native American themes into their lessons. More ›

American Indian Heritage Month —

This site provides teachers a number of different resources, websites, and images for use in the classroom. More ›

Teaching About Native American Issues

The organization Understanding Prejudice offers several tips on how to teach more effectively about Native Americans and overcome portrayals of Native Americans that are stereotypical, inaccurate, or outdated. More ›

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