November is our national Native American Heritage month! As the Washington State Museum of Natural History and Culture, the Burke presents daily opportunities—both at the museum and out in the community—to engage with the living traditions of Native American cultures.
In celebration of Native American Heritage month, we’ve pulled together some facts and helpful resources to support classroom teachers and parents as you explore Native American cultures together with your students.
Did you know?
- Tribes are sovereign entities with government-to-government relationships with the United States. These complex relationships are typically based on treaties. The U.S. Constitution defines treaties as the "supreme law of the land" (Article VI).
- Tribes, just like nations, have their own services, such as schools, hospitals, housing, police, courts, natural resources departments, museums, libraries, and much more. Try reaching out to the tribe's education department, cultural resources department, museum, cultural center, or library.
- Native American, Native, American Indian, Indian, First Peoples and Indigenous are all terms used by both Native and non-Native people. When possible, though, most Native people prefer to be identified by their specific community. Try implementing this language in your classrooms as a way to discuss history, geography, identity, and diversity!
Washington state tribes:
- There are 29 federally recognized tribes in Washington state and more than 500 federally recognized tribes in the U.S.
- Washington's 2015 education mandate, Senate Bill 5433, requires tribal histories be taught in every grade, and that schools consult with their local tribes. Visit the Governor’s Office on Indian Affairs to find your neighboring tribes.
- Washington's OSPI created the curriculum, Since Time Immemorial: Tribal Histories of Washington State, to help teachers implement the new state mandate. Visit their website for lessons designed for grades Pre-K–12.
- Honoring Tribal Legacies is another new and useful curriculum designed to help teachers incorporate first person histories of Native America. Created around the stories of encounters with the Lewis & Clark Expedition, this curriculum is adaptable to any region and includes both science and humanities lessons.
- Washington state tribal leaders are well known on the national stage. Brian Cladoosby (Swinomish) is the current president of the National Congress of American Indians, and Fawn Sharp (Quinault) is the current 1st Vice President. President Sharp also serves as the current President of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians. In the education world, Patricia Whitefoot (Yakama) is the current President of the National Indian Education Association, and is a member of the U.S. Department of Education’s National Advisory Council on Indian Education.
Other resources from the Burke Museum:
- Tribal governments, museums and cultural centers
- Salish Bounty: Traditional Native Foods of Puget Sound
- Coast Salish people and languages
- Northwest Coast Basketry Teacher's Guide
- How did totem poles become a symbol of Seattle?
What will you be doing to explore Native American cultures with your students?
Learn more about Burke Museum Education programs.