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Explore Content About Native Americans for Indigenous Peoples' Day

Posted on October 09 2022

Explore Content About Native Americans for Indigenous Peoples' Day


Dear Educator,

The second Monday of October has been celebrated as Columbus Day since 1934. However, controversy over celebrating Columbus, given the effects of colonization on the native population of the Americas, has been steadily growing. So much so, that in 2021, President Biden declared that same date as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. At Maps101, we support efforts to educate students about the history of Native Americans. If you so choose to acknowledge Indigenous Peoples’ Day in addition to or instead of Columbus Day, we have a variety of content to support better understanding of life as a Native American, including an interactive Field Trip, GNN articles, and maps. First though, let’s take a deeper dive into what Indigenous Peoples’ Day is all about.

This GNN article provides further explanation and context about Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the United States. With several primary source quotes—including one from Biden’s proclamation and another from a young Native American leader—students will understand the purpose of this celebration and hopefully come away from it wanting to know more about Native Americans. And we have more content with which to enrich your students further.

This interactive Field Trip is an excellent place to begin learning more about Native Americans. With a carousel of images and a corresponding map and text, students can explore topics such as Native Religions, Arts and Crafts, Native American Cuisine, Plains Living, Living in the Northwest, Mound Builders, and more. This Field Trip is a helpful overview of the historic culture of Native Americans, and it reinforces mapping skills. That is a win-win!


One of the topics featured in the Field Trip was Native American foods. To further explore that subject, we have an exclusive GNN topic that goes into more detail. Many of the foods familiar to Americans from Thanksgiving were eaten by native groups, including turkey and pumpkin. Students will also learn about the native “three sisters” that are grown together. By way of encounters in the Age of Exploration, these native foods spread to Europe. With Thanksgiving around the corner, we recommend favoriting this article.


Native Americans first welcomed colonists from England when they landed along the east coast and provided them with food—thus establishing the first Thanksgiving—and showed them how to grow these foods for themselves. But war broke out as Europeans wanted to take possession of native land. Eventually, many Native American groups were forced from their lands in the 1830s on a march known as the Trail of Tears. This article and accompanying map of the journey, will help students understand why today, many feel that rather than celebrate Christopher Columbus and coming of colonization, we should instead honor the native peoples who lived in the Americas originally.


Use this lesson plan to extend the content past the Trail of Tears to explore the losses of land that Native Americans faced as European colonists headed west. Students will compare three maps to draw conclusions. Full instructions are provided. To find a lower-level version of this activity for grades 3-5, search the title and use that leveled lesson plan instead.


Conflicts of interest between the indigenous peoples of the Americas and those who arrived and came to power are not just a part of history from long ago. This article discusses a recent example of a conflict of interests regarding Bears Ears National Monument. Students should realize that Native Americans have long been fighting for recognition and that that fight continues, even now.


While conflict can still arise between the U.S. government and native nations, there is some good news as well. This article explains that in 2022, the Rappahannock people in Virginia had returned to them 465 acres at a site that is sacred to their people. The article explores why this area is of importance to the Rappahannock and the history of it from the colonial days of Virginia. The return of these lands is the kind of progress that Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebrates.


This week, we leave you with another GNN article that focuses on Native American successes. Wilma Mankiller was the first woman chief of the Cherokee Nation. This biography explores her story. She was even awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998, by President Bill Clinton, for the work she had done for her people and for women. We hope that her story inspires your students, especially while focusing on Native Americans for Indigenous Peoples’ Day.


We hope you have enjoyed this mini-sample of Maps101 that focuses on Native Americans for Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The featured resources above will give you an idea of the type of content available with your subscription. We hope your weekly tour of topics in the GeoJournal helps not just inform you of themes you can focus on throughout the year, but that it also draws your attention to content you may not have realized is available. Happy hunting for more content that benefits your class this school year. And don’t forget to favorite to save what you use often for easy access.

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