It is so important for kids to grow up learning about the First Nations of this little place we call America. And it's important for reasons much bigger than just having a grasp on their history.
The thousands of tribes of this country (not even counting Canada, Mexico and Central and South America) were as diverse as the landscape is- after all, each tribe developed and evolved in symbiosis with their habitat. They were devoted stewards to their Land, their Place, and we can all learn so much about Right Relationship from their examples, past and present (make sure kids know that there are still Native Americans!).
These are just some of the books that made up my daughter's childhood. They were accessible all year round, but it has always felt right that the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving should have a primary focus on these Peoples (and the Pilgrims secondarily- instead of the other way around). I hope they find their way into your homes too!
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With my daughter, I started by sharing the tale of Native Americans- stories that kids of different tribes would have grown up hearing. This way you're not starting from an anthropological position of observing differences, of 'us' and 'them'.
We start with how we're the same.
For this, the Keepers series by Michael J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchac (both indigenous themselves) is simply wonderful. They are also rich with projects and experiments for every single story so the books will grow with your child- if you homeschool, these will serve you very well.
These are just three of the books in the series- I think there are five altogether.
This book, Giving Thanks, is wonderful for the same, immersive reason: you can make it a part of your days- perhaps a morning or evening ritual of gratitude to Nature- to begin to comprehend from the inside what it would feel like to have such an intimate connection to Place. This serves to not just 'learn about Native Americans' but to learn about all of humanity, about life...... about the relationships modern people are lacking and how we are malnourished as a result.
Paul Goble's and Byrd Baylor's books would round this collection out nicely.
Now for school-age kids, we can start to tell the story of Thanksgiving and who better to hear it from than Squanto himself (channeled by Joseph Bruchac)?
This story is very forgiving towards the illegal immigrants (I find myself shouting 'No, Squanto, no' in my head when I read it- though I believe this colonization would have happened sooner or later regardless), while also being much more reliable than most of the official stories told in school. And it's beautiful, too.
And then we're ready (around age 7) to add an anthropological perspective to our immersive one. Continue with Native American stories (there is no age limit!) and begin to sprinkle in more factual information about the people the stories came through:
These little books are rich in details, including what you would have worn, what you would have eaten, what games you would played and chores you'd have done. These can be part of a greater nature study of a region (these represent the five general regions of the US: NW, SW, Plains/ Midwest, NE and SE) and if you live on land that belongs to one of these tribes then by all means start there!
Finally, two beautiful books that straddle immersive and informational: The Ledgerbook of Thomas Blue Eagle and Buffalo Bird Girl. Each of these is a biography and they each show the contrast of Native life before and after European influence.
Buffalo Bird Girl is especially remarkable for being the true life story of Buffalo Bird Woman, whose photos are shown at the end of the book.
I hope that these treasures become part of your home and, even more so, the stories and wisdom for a better way to live in relation to our world.