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Indigenous Peoples' Curriculum Day and Teach-In

  • National Museum of the American Indian 4th St. and Independence Ave. SW Washingtion, DC (map)

Event Details

Join the National Museum of the American Indian and D.C. Area Educators for Social Justice (a Teaching for Change project) for a teach-in on Indigenous Peoples. Engage with curriculum and strategies for teaching students about Indigenous Peoples' history and life today. The speakers and workshops will include resources from Native Knowledge 360° and the campaign to abolish Columbus Day. Read more about the keynote speaker and workshops below. Coffee and lunch are provided along with free classroom resources. Space is limited. 




4th Floor Patron's Lounge


Keynote Speaker

Room 4018/19

Sarah Shear

Sarah Shear

Dr. Sarah B. Shear is an assistant professor of social studies education at Penn State University-Altoona. Her research focuses on teaching and learning K-12 social studies within Indigenous contexts. Sarah's research includes examining how race and settler colonialism issues are addressed in social studies state standards and textbooks; teacher education; film; and qualitative research methodologies. Her work has been published in a number of journals, including Theory& Research in Social Education, Journal of Social Studies Education & Qualitative Inquiry. Sarah's work is also featured in the books Race Lessons: Using Inquiry to Teach about Race in Social Studies; Cinematic Social Studies: A Resource for Teaching and Learning Social Studies with Film; and Doing Race in Social Studies: Critical Perspectives. She co-edited (Re)Imagining Elementary Social Studies: A Controversial Issues Reader, and is co-editing a forthcoming book, Marking the Invisible: Articulating Whiteness in Social Studies Education and Research.  


Workshop Session One

Building Critical Literacy in Your Classroom: American Indian Children’s Literature.
Room 4025

What makes a good book for your classroom? Learn more about what to look for and how to assess American Indian children’s books for their accuracy, authority, and perspective. This session, targeting Pre-K through 4th-grade educators, will cover some essential understandings about American Indian cultures and will develop your Critical Literacy about bias in children’s literature as it relates to how indigenous people’s history is presented in schools and books. NMAI’s Teacher Advisory Group member Katie Blomquist (4th grade teacher at Sunrise Elementary) will co-present with Dr. Sarah Shear. 

What Does it Mean to Remove a People?
Room 4018/19

Learn more about the U.S. government’s American Indian removal policies of the 19th century and their lasting effects on Native nations. Explore NMAI’s online resource, Native Knowledge 360°, that examines first-person perspectives from Native American communities through the use of documents, maps, and multimedia resources. This session will be facilitated by both NMAI Teacher Advisory Group member Andy Paparella (7th Grade Social studies teacher at Kenmore Middle School) and Native Knowledge 360° Manager, Ed Schupman. 

Inspiring Civic Engagement: Engaging Students Through Facilitated Dialogue
Room 3010 and Americans Gallery

The NMAI has partnered with the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, a worldwide network of historic places that are Sites of Conscience.  The Coalition is dedicated to remembering past struggles for justice and addressing their contemporary legacies. One of the Coalition’s initiatives is to support the development of new school programs rooted in the methodology of dialogue. Through these programs, the museum’s cultural interpreters invite students with varied experiences and differing perspectives to engage in open-ended conversations with the express goal of promoting personal and collective learning. Programs aim to foster critical thinking, strengthen collaborative relationships, and build respect for the rights and duties of a diverse citizenry. Learn more about educators dialogue tool kit

‘Don’t Take Our Voices Away’: A Role Play on the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change
Patron's Lounge

Participants will be introduced to a role play developed by Julie Treick O’Neill and Tim Swinehart of Rethinking Schools. The lesson is inspired by the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change which was held in Anchorage, Alaska, in April 2009. At that Summit, representatives from around the world exchanged experiences and observations from the front lines of climate change and, at the Summit’s conclusion, formulated a unified strategy for leading a worldwide campaign to share their voices and recommendations for solutions. In this role play, students will be divided into small groups, each of which will represent an indigenous group that attended the Anchorage Summit; the six groups include the Dine (Navajo), Yup’ik (Alaska Native), the Bambara of sub-Saharan Africa, and indigenous groups from Kiribati (central Pacific islands), the Caribbean, and the Amazon. The goal of the role play is for students representing the six indigenous groups to develop a list of action items to present to the U.N. In the workshop, participants will experience a part of the lesson and brainstorm ways to use it in their classroom. The lesson is available for free teacher access at the Zinn Education Project website. Presented by Faye Colon (Teaching for Change staff member and educator at the Harvest Collegiate High School in New York City). 



Patron's Lounge


Workshop Session Two

Teaching About Indigenous Women in an Elementary Classroom.
Room 4025

In this session, educator Sarah Shear will focus on the children’s book The Water Walker, by Joanne Robertson, and a related lesson plan. The lesson plan was accepted to be used in a Special Issue of Social Studies and the Young Learner which is expected to be released in January/February 2019. The Special Issue will be focused on women’s studies for young learners. In this session, teachers will discuss potential ways in which the book can be woven into curricula they already use as well as possible extension ideas for use in the classroom. Take-aways will include the lesson plan and a teacher-generated google document with lesson ideas.

Nation to Nation: Contextualizing Treaties and Telling More Complete Narratives.
Room 4018/19

Treaties, which represent U.S. recognition and reaffirmation of tribal sovereignty and rights, are an important part of our history; yet, they are often missing from the instructional narrative of the classroom. In this lesson, students will analyze and contextualize treaties between the U.S. and native nations and explore their aftermath in order to evaluate the impacts of each treaty. The treaties that will be used for this instructional task include ones negotiated with the Muscogee (Creek), the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), and those including the Miami and Potawatomi. These treaties have been chosen for this exercise because they vary in content and consequences and, thus, can help students contextualize native alliances with Britain during the War of 1812, Jackson’s rise to prominence, and federal Indian Removal policies in the 1830s. Participants will learn about the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) and NMAI collaboration designed to provide teachers assistance with telling more complete classroom narratives about these topics. The teacher-led session will be presented by Tiferet Ani, content specialist, Montgomery County Public Schools.

The Abolish Columbus Day Campaign.
Patron's Lounge

It is time to stop celebrating the crimes of Columbus and stand in solidarity with the Indigenous people who demand an end to Columbus Day. Instead of glorifying a person who enslaved and murdered people, destroyed cultures, and terrorized those who challenged his rule, we seek to honor these communities demanding sovereignty, recognition, and rights. We encourage schools to petition their administration and for communities to introduce legislation to rename Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day. In this session, Faye Colon teacher leader of the Zinn Education Project will provide information and resources, including the popular role-play The People vs.Columbus et. al,  to join the campaign to Abolish Columbus Day.

Caretakers of the Earth: Continuing the Legacy in Elementary Classrooms.
Room 3010

Teachers will create a colorful collage book showing the life of the American Shad fish and the importance of shad to inland waterways and to local Native peoples, such as the Pamunkey and Mattaponi.  This activity will also provide opportunity for showing students how we can each take actions to improve our environment. Teachers will receive a copy of a cross-curricular lesson plan and will discuss ways to use that lesson plan in their own classrooms. Presented by Karen O. Brown, visual artist and arts educator.