Educator Initiative


November is Native American Heritage Month!


November is Native American Heritage Month, a time to pay tribute and acknowledge the many contributions that Native people have made to America. The first inhabitants of these lands contributed to modern day society through foods, medicine, literature, arts, common names of states and counties, and our modern day governmental structure. A story that most American’s hear during this month is the story of the first Thanksgiving. However, you may not realize that the tribe in attendance – the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe – is still a flourishing sovereign tribal nation.

When colonist arrived, the Wampanoag people provided them with the knowledge and skills they needed to survive, enabling them to produce the harvest they celebrated with at the first Thanksgiving feast. The Pilgrims had their first successful harvest in September/October 1621, so they sent Pilgrim men out hunting for fowl to complete the feast. According to tribal historical accounts, the Wampanoag warriors went to the Pilgrim’s village when continual gun fire was heard out of fear the tribe was being attacked. When the Wampanoag warriors arrived, they were invited to join the feast. However there was not enough food to feed the chief and warriors so the Wampanoag warriors were sent out to hunt; returning with deer which they presented to the English leader. This act of gift giving created the ceremonial process of giving thanks during the modern Thanksgiving holiday.

Today, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe continues to preserve their traditional ways of life through language restoration programs. Mukayuhsak Weekuw: The Children’s House, is a language nest preschool and Kindergarten. Founded in 1993, the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project serves four tribal governments of the Wampanoag Nation (Mashpee, Aquinnah, Assonet & Herring Pond), and provides free community language-based instruction and teacher training for tribal household members throughout the Cape and Islands region in Massachusetts.

As educators’ plan for Native American Heritage Month activities and sharing of the Thanksgiving story, the National Indian Education Association urges you to celebrate not only the rich history of Native peoples but also the vibrant futures of our tribes and Native communities. Through telling the Thanksgiving narrative from the Wampanoag’s perspective, by introducing Native foods, language, and song, this time of year allows us all the opportunity to celebrate our shared history and futures.


Lesson Plans &  Resources


Teaching Approaches


Lesson Plans/ Study Guides


Native American Perspectives, Contributions and Celebrations


Historical Resources (these are more like articles for viewpoints and less useful for classroom use)


Resources for Families


Book Lists



 Additional Resources


  1. PBS Highlights Indigenous Stories Throughout History

PBS has compiled stories, videos, and resources highlighting Native American Heritage Month with Indigenous stories throughout history.

To view the PBS highlight on Native American Heritage Month, please click here.


  1. NMAI Interactive Experience

The National Museum of the American Indian website currently has an interactive experience to highlight Native American Heritage Month, in which individuals can learn about Native American history, both past and present.

To view the interactive experience, please click here.


  1. Resources for Educators from the National Education Association (NEA)

The NEA has highlighted a comprehensive list of resources for educators to utilize both inside and outside of the classroom.

To view these resources, please click here.


  1. Reading is Fundamental: Celebrating Native American Heritage

Webpage providing titles and descriptions of informative books sharing the rich stories and traditions of many Native American tribes.

To view the complete list of books, please click here.


  1. Native American Children’s Literature Recommended Reading List

Recommended reading list and resources for Head Start/Preschool through 12th grade learning.

To view the recommended reading list, please click here.


6. Deconstructing the Myths of “The First Thanksgiving”

We offer these myths and facts to assist students, parents and teachers in thinking critically about this holiday, and deconstructing what we have been taught about the history of this continent and the world. (Note: We have based our “fact” sections in large part on the research, both published and unpublished, that Abenaki scholar Margaret M. Bruchac developed in collaboration with the Wampanoag Indian Program at Plymouth Plantation. We thank Marge for her generosity. We thank Doris Seale and Lakota Harden for their support.)

To read more, please click here. 


7. Celebrating Indigenous Reads

To view the complete list of books and resources, please click here. 



Deadline: November 1, 2019 11:59am ET

Send your teacher testimony document in a PDF format to Kurrinn Abrams, NIEA Education Specialist,


Are you an teacher working in a Native-serving school? Write a teacher testimony on your experiences in any of the below categories:

Several chapters include:
  • Recruitment;
  • Preparation;
  • Mentorship;
  • Policy;
  • Human Resource Development & Induction;
  • Professional Development;
  • Pedagogical & Leadership Practices;
  • Educational Impact;
  • Minority-Serving Institutions;
  • Intersectionality; and
  • Retention.

Handbook of Research on Teachers of Color

Teacher Testimony Template

First ask yourself 4 questions:

  1. What am I Trying to say?
  2. What words will express it?
  3. What image or idiom will make it clear?
  4. Is this image fresh enough to have an impact?


Structure of the Testimony

Introduction (150 words)

  • Taking a position around a policy or a research finding; what is you reaction.
  • Briefly define and describe position based on your personal experience.
  • Use your personal story to describe why this issue is important.
  • Identify who you are…why you are an expert. 

Factual Arguments to Support Your Position (about 500 words)

  •  Argument 1
    • Evidence
    • Evidence
    • Evidence
  • Argument 2:
    • Evidence 
    • Evidence

To be Sure Paragraph (200 Words)

  •  Pre-empt any critics of your position by acknowledging any flaws in the argument or any counter arguments    

Conclusion (150 Words)

  • Circle back to the hook.  In this case, the hook is the same as your reaction or stance on the policy, research
  • Make it memorable



  • Get to the point. Outline most relevant and salient points

Your testimony will work as a closing document for the final section of each chapter.  Your voice is a final appeal for a given policy or recommendation. Be bold, be courageous, share your expertise and support your thoughts with evidence.  Here are some suggestions for getting started.  

  • Cite references in endnotes using APA format.
  • Strong first two sentences
  • Bolster your personal story or anecdotes with research.
  • Aim to use short, concise sentences and avoid academic or policy jargon throughout.