Indian Education

Indian Education for All Resources

Monday, October 31, 2011, 10:59 am

As Thanksgiving approaches, here are suggestions for how an honest and inclusive history of Thanksgiving may be included in Montana schools:

Have students research harvest festivals, considering: Where does our food come from? How are we similar to our neighbors?

Look at local advertisements or school textbooks for Thanksgiving and search for stereotypes of American Indians. Are native people shown without the cultural, religious, and language differences among tribes (Stereotype Checklist, page 36)?  Older students can research and discuss these questions: In whose interest is the textbook version of events? Why did Pilgrims and natives gather together in 1621? Why were they in warfare later on in King Philip’s War? What was the outcome of the plague on Indian populations? How did native/white engage during this time period? Now? What were the conditions of Squanto’s enslavement?

Read (local or online) articles, stories, or poetry by native authors and activists. What are native people saying who live in your community or  in the State?

Using N. Scott Momaday’s poem, The Delight Song of Tsoai-Talee, as a model, begin with "I’m …" and complete the sentence (possibly, suggest 10 descriptions).

Review Alphabet of the Americas (p. 75) and discuss how students’ lives would be different without these contributions. Chart the items into categories. Note that many of the plants were not merely ‘found’, but developed by Native people; it is important in understanding the exchange of items between whites and native people.

Consider an alternative teaching endeavor, as opposed to planning a pageant or portrayal of the stereotype Pilgrim and Indian story.  Brainstorm with your class how they could teach others in your school about how Montana Indians may or may not celebrate Thanksgiving Day

From: Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years. Bill Bigelow, Bob Peterson, Ed. Pages 83-84.

Thanksgiving Teaching Unit:  Grades 5-8 (adaptable for both younger and older). Based on the book 1621 A New Look At Thanksgiving by Catherine O'Neill Grace and Margaret M. Bruchac, With Plimoth Plantation.

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Watch clips from the History Channel DVD – "History Made Every Day: Desperate Crossing: The Untold Story of the Mayflower ",

Colonization and American Indian Perspectives – 7/8 Social Studies IEFA lesson plan for taking another look at Thanksgiving

Colonization and American Indian Perspectives

Lesson includes these questions….

What have you learned about the first Thanksgiving?

Why is it important to look at issues from multiple perspectives?

What are some of the reasons American Indians might have a different view regarding how Thanksgiving has been traditionally taught and celebrated in our schools?

We Shall Remain – PBS video series – can be accessed on-line.  Episode One:  After the Mayflower


For more information, contact Mike Jetty, 444-0720