Why Do I Need To Teach About Native Americans?

Okay, Cultural Understanding and Multicultural Education are Important to Reaching My Native American Students, But Why Do I Need To Teach About Native Americans?

First of all, North Carolina has the largest Native American Population east of the Mississippi River, so more than likely there are Native American students in your classroom!  For more facts visit the North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs North Carolina Indians Facts Sheet Page.

To Begin to Address the Miseducation of Your Students and as the First Level of Multicultural Education

  • Multicultural Education is a process and the contributions level is one of the lower levels of the process of multicultural education.  At the contributions level there is a focus on teaching about the contributions of all diverse populations of this society so we can listen, appreciate, and analyze the diverse voices that comprise our society.
  • E Pluribus Unum- “Out of Many, One”, our nation was founded on the interaction of many diverse populations and Native Americans are one of our many diverse populations that our students have been miseducated about.
  • Remember the Contributions Level is JUST ONE step of the Multicultural Education Process IT IS NOT Multicultural Education itself.  It is an important part of the process, but it is not the process itself.  Do not think that if you teach about Native Americans along with all the other aspects of your curriculum that you have “done” multicultural education.
  • True Multicultural Education is a process and a philosophy wherein the curriculum and instruction in the classroom connect students to real people and real events outside the classroom. Students would be inspired to become actively involved in the curriculum to address social problems and issues.  Thus, students would become empowered because the social-action aspect of multicultural education, the highest level of the process of multicultural education, enables them to make decisions and take action to find solutions for the social problems that plague our society.   Student involvement in social action projects would improve their self-esteem and self-efficacy, increase their motivation and their level of social responsibility.  This type of learning would create a sense of community wherein students would perceive that “this is our world, and we’re responsible for making it the best world it can be” (Sleeter & Grant 1999).

Miseducation and Stereotypes of Native Americans

  • Native Americans are considered remnants of the past or artifacts
  • Dispel stereotypes with knowledge that the Native American Community is a thriving growing community with a future
  • There is a need for contemporary images of who Native Americans are and building Native Americans students pride in being Indian.
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