Native American Heritage Month

National Native American Heritage Month is here! Similar to what we have done with other heritage months, CLI is excited to share our thoughts on how to honor and acknowledge this special occasion, along with book recommendations and resources for the classroom.
CLI’s approach to Native American Heritage Month aligns with its views on all the Heritage Months we acknowledge. We believe in telling our nation’s history authentically, and we must create a story that’s inclusive and goes beyond the accomplishments, ideas, and creations of a few. Schools must integrate these stories into the curriculum throughout the school year. Some untold stories or narratives have been ignored and/or overlooked.
As a nation, we must do a better job of sharing a more inclusive story of who we are, where we are from, why we came here, how we came here, what we have experienced, and what we have done. Additionally, we must explore ways to come together to envision a better tomorrow.
Here are some ways you can use children’s literature to dig deeper into the experiences of Indigenous Americans. These umbrella concepts and questions can be used to build positive identities, celebrate the joy of other cultures, spark conversation, and inspire children to stand up for change.
  • Connect Children to Their History: Connect the events of history to the lives of the children in your classrooms. Explore how the actions of the past shaped and continue to shape the lives of people now. Help children to see how historical events connect to current events.
  • Understand Intersectionality and its Effects on People: Intersectionality refers to the social, economic, and political ways in which identity-based systems of oppression and privilege connect, overlap, and influence one another. Help children understand what intersectionality is as a concept and how it makes for different life experiences for Latinx people.
  • Develop Criticality: Criticality means reading, writing, and thinking in active ways to understand and question how power, privilege, and oppression play out in texts and in the real world and work towards change.
  • Understand and Dismantle Racism: Help children recognize and understand privilege and bias in the world. Explore what is needed to combat racism.  
  • Have Children Explore Their Own Identities: Gaining an understanding of who you are in this world is incredibly important, and providing children an opportunity at a young age to explore this journey is an essential part of a child’s development. Literature is a bridge to a large variety of discussions around identity. This is also an excellent way to introduce the concept of intersectionality.
Join us during this month to celebrate Native American Heritage Month with a special book for you and your young reader. These titles promise to provide insight into our history and inspire our future. Happy reading!

Title Spotlight

What Your Ribbon Skirt Means to Me
Alexis Bunten and Nicole Neidhardt

Celebrate National Native American Heritage Month with this informative picture book that offers both an homage to Secretary Deb Haaland's achievements, and a celebration of urban Indigenous community through the eyes of a little girl.

Pia rushes over to the Indigenous community center after school. It’s where she goes every day to play outside with friends and work on her homework. But today—March 18, 2021—is special: Auntie Autumn gathers all the children around their television to witness Secretary Deb Haaland in her ribbon skirt at the White House as she becomes the first Native American to serve as a cabinet secretary. Pia and the other kids behold her Native pride on an international stage.

Together with their parents and Elders, the children explore the values woven into their own regalia, land, community, and traditions, making precious memories on this day they won’t soon forget.

Additional Native American Heritage Month Titles

My Powerful Hair
Carole Lindstrom and Steph Littlebird
Joy Harjo and Michaela Goade
Awasis and the World-Famous Bannock
Dallas Hunt and Amanda Strong
Traci Sorell and Arigon Starr
Ancestor Approved
Edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Forever Cousins
Laulel Goodluck and Jonathan Nelson
Finding My Dance
Ria Thundercloud and Kalila J. Fuller
Fry Bread
Kevin Noble Maillard and Juana Martinez-Neal
If You Lived During the Plimoth Thanksgiving
Chris Newell and Winona Nelson
Nimoshom and His Bus
Penny M. Thomas and Karen Hibbard
The People Shall Continue
Simon J. Ortiz and Sharol Graves
Just Like Grandma
Kim Rogers and Julie Flett
Sharice’s Big Voice
Sharice Davids and Nancy K. Mays, and Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley
Traci Sorell and Natasha Donovan
nipêhon / I Wait
Caitlin Dale Nicholson and Leona Morin-Neilson

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