Real educational reform surrounding an accurate education in American Indian history, especially emphasizing the continued existence of Native people, needs the support of the educators in our community. American Indian history should be a required part of an education in American history, as Native Americans were influential in the evolution of American politics and culture in myriad ways. In addition to teaching about American Indians pre-contact, during early contact, and into the 20th century, we must continue to promote the visibility of contemporary Native peoples in our community, our state, and our country. Our society and government could stand to gain a lot by listening to indigenous voices of the past and present.

The National Museum of the American Indian has abundant resources for educators to teach students of all grade levels, including in institutions of higher education. We encourage you to comb through these lesson plans to see how they already meet academic standards and can teach both our educators and students to understand contemporary American society’s relationship with Native people. Visit Native Knowledge 360, a free collection of American Indian-centered lessons curated by the Smithsonian and geared toward meeting existing education standards.

Our challenge for you, the educators of our community, is to commit to including more Native American history, literature, journalism, culture, art, music, activism, and social impact—and as more than a footnote in your curriculum. The good news is the Widoktadwen Center for Native Knowledge can serve as your educational consultant on American Indian subjects and respectful representation of our people. We understand that it’s hard to create a needed change when you’re not sure where to start, so now you know: START HERE! We’re glad you’d like to learn more!


Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian

About the Exhibit: American Indian images are everywhere, from the Land O’Lakes butter maiden to the Cleveland Indians’ mascot, and from classic Westerns and cartoons to episodes of Seinfeld and South Park. American Indian names are everywhere too, from state, city, and street names to the Tomahawk missile. And familiar historical events such as Pocahontas’s life, the Trail of Tears, and the Battle of Little Bighorn remain popular reference points in everyday conversation.

Americans, a major exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, highlights the ways in which American Indians have been part of the nation’s identity since before the country began. It delves into the three stories, surrounds visitors with images, and invites them to begin a conversation about why this phenomenon exists.

Pervasive, powerful, at times demeaning, the images, names, and stories reveal the deep connection between Americans and American Indians as well as how Indians have been embedded in unexpected ways in the history, pop culture, and identity of the United States.

Native American Voices
Penn Museum, University of Pennsylvania

Fulfilling a Prophecy: The Past and Present of the Lenape in Pennsylvania
Penn Museum, University of Pennsylvania

Full Exhibition Websites
Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian


Strengthening Financial Avenues in Native American Communities
Money Geek

Native Financial Cents
AISES’ Native Financial Cents (NFC) culturally contextualized curriculum was designed to supplement content from Wells Fargo’s Hands on Banking® Curricula to provide financial education for elementary, middle, high school, and young adults to help students start their financial lives smart and strong.


Academic Library Resources (American Indian Library Association)

American Indians in Children’s Literature
Established in 2006, American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL) provides critical perspectives and analysis of Indigenous peoples in children’s and young adult books, the school curriculum, popular culture, and society. The director of AICL, Debbie Reese, provides up-to-date reviews and articles on the portrayal of American Indians in children’s and young adult literature and pop culture.
Best Books of 2021 (American Indians in Children’s Literature)

Native Children’s and Young Adult Books
Native Reads (First Nations Development Institute)

Film and TV

Native American Heritage Month Films from World Channel

PBS Native America Series
Native America (PBS)
Premiered October 2018
Explore the world created by America’s First Peoples. The four part series reaches back 15,000 years to reveal massive cities aligned to the stars, unique systems of science and spirituality, and 100 million people connected by social networks spanning two continents.

Rabbett Before Horses
Ojibwe artist Rabbett Before Horses Strickland first shared his extraordinary work with PBS Wisconsin viewers in the documentary Ma’iingan: Brother Wolf. This new documentary highlights the work of this talented Wisconsin artist, musician, and theoretical mathematician, whose paintings reflect the culture of his community.

Indian Horse
An adaptation of Ojibway writer Richard Wagamese’s award-winning novel, this moving and important drama sheds light on the dark history of Canada’s boarding schools or Indigenous Residential Schools and the indomitable spirit of aboriginal people.

Rutherford Falls
Streaming on Peacock

Reservation Dogs
Streaming on Hulu

Mohawk Girls
Streaming on Peacock

Molly of Denali
PBS Kids

Te Ata

Spirit Rangers


Night Raiders
Netflix, Prime Video

Prey (Predator prequel)

Rhymes for Young Ghouls
Available for purchase on Prime


The English
Prime Video

…and many more!

Web Resources

Illustration of Joy Harjo from IllumiNative and Amplifier's project Native Education for All. Text says Joy Harjo, Muskoke Creek, US Poet Laureate.

Check out the Native Education for All initiative by IllumiNative in partnership with Amplifier to learn more about Joy Harjo and other notable contemporary Native leaders!

Check out these websites for more information, data, stories and other resources to help you learn more about Native American peoples, cultures, and issues and to gain confidence as an ally.


IllumiNative is a valuable web resource for educators and allies alike! Access lesson plans, toolkits, action plans, and more with this free resource intended to change the way we teach and learn about Native peoples.

Teaching Resources by Native Youth
Indigenous Peoples’ Day Toolkit
Dos and Don’ts

Helpful links curated by IllumiNative:

Native Forward Scholars Fund

Center for Native American Youth

National Indian Education Association

Lesson Plans

The Standing Rock Syllabus Project on behalf of the New York City Stands with Standing Rock Collective

Unlearning Columbus Day Myths: Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day
National Museum of the American Indian Handout

Early Childhood:
Columbus Who? A Dialogue on Discovery with Three-Year-Olds

For grades 6–12:  This activity from Teaching Tolerance has students read and analyze two texts about Thanksgiving written by Native authors.

Teach your students about the legacy of colonial violence since 1492 in this short video from Let’s Talk Native TV. (warning: contains descriptions of violence)

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