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Key Concepts For Teaching Native American Histories

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Transcript of Key Concepts For Teaching Native American Histories

in a meaningful way requires us to think about colonization as an ongoing process, not something that ended in 1776. The key concepts offered here are a starting point for rethinking the place of Native American peoples in American history.
Representation Matters
It’s hard to develop good self-esteem when your people are ignored or misrepresented in books, curriculae, and public spaces.
Identity is complicated
Laughter is good medicine
is at the heart of every issue. Consider ways to link your lesson plans to the land. Creation stories are rooted in specific places; lifeways change when access to waterways, plants and animals is lost; treaties are still legal obligations of the United States.
Key Concepts
for Teaching Native American Histories
Smoke Signals, 1998
The background for this presentation is a photo of the Mashantucket Pequot symbol, taken at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum by Adeline Broussan. Please find detailed information about this symbol here:
Global Indigeneity
Historical Trauma
Legal status is not the same as race
Diane Humetewa (Hopi), first Native American woman Federal judge
Contrasting Images
"10 examples of Indian Mascots 'Honoring' Native Peoples ," article by Adrienne Keene, PhD.
"Native American"
is generic. Tribal names are specific.
Native American, American Indian, Indigenous Peoples and First Nations – these are general terms that lump together extremely diverse peoples. Learn and use specific tribal names whenever possible.

Native American or American Indian?
Bumper stickers say it all.
Check your assumptions about who is or is not “Native American.” Where do these ideas come from?
The Sacred Land Film Project
Fantastic resources here:
Standing on Sacred Ground
Native Americans are not “just like” other Americans.
Tribal citizens have a unique legal status based on the history of state and federal laws, treaties, and court decisions.
Find more information on the Bureau of Indian Affairs' website:
is compounded when we pretend the history never happened.
Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart, Ph.D. (Hunkpapa Lakota) developed a powerful theory of how historical trauma and unresolved grief affect Native Americans today.

Find videos of her talk here:
is as powerful as dominance. Anishinaabe writer Gerald Vizenor uses this term to counter narratives of victimry and disappearance; he celebrates the active presence of Indigenous peoples in the modern world.
Supaman "Prayer Loop Song"
Native Americans from the U.S. work together with Indigenous Peoples from around the world through the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is an important statement of key principals.
Dowload it here:
Good intentions are nice but they mean little without good information and understanding. Educating yourself about Native American history and how it affects the present-day can be both fascinating and uncomfortable. We hope you will continue to learn, and pass it on!

United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
"Smiling Indians," by Sterlin Harjo
Native peoples know how to laugh. Look for humor and you might find it, even in serious situations.
Ryan Redcorn explains "Smiling Indians"
Full transcript