Native American Lesson Plans
Native voices are the heart of our project. As the state's original inhabitants, they continue to retain their cultural traditions and thrive in the present day as sovereign entities. Each tribe chooses representatives to work side by side with BYU ARTS educators to develop curriculum materials. Lessons are then vetted in elementary classrooms and presented to tribal councils, cultural and education departments for review and approval.
Native American Artist Roster
The Utah Division of Arts and Museums, in partnership with the BYU ARTS Partnership, has prepared an artist roster featuring Native American artists and educators who would be available to provide arts instruction and experiences for your students. The full roster can be found on the Utah Division of Arts and Museums website (link coming soon). But what follows is a list of some of the individuals you will find on the roster.
Native American Children's Books
Seeking Culturally Responsive Books About Native Americans for the Classroom
One evolving aspect of the BYU ARTS Partnership Native American Curriculum Initiative is the journey of helping classroom teachers choose culturally accurate and authentic literature. As more Native American authors write from an authentic voice and position, the time has come to replace many Native American theme books used in classrooms for more affirming authentic literature. Following is a three-part process we have created to help in the literature review process. Each part has questions that guide the process.
THREE-PART PROCESS FOR VETTING BOOKS
Look at the cover of the book paying attention to the author and illustrator, read the inside flaps of book covers, the foreword and notes.
Digest the book's words and illustrations.
Consider how the book will enrich your students' understanding of Native indigenous cultures.
1. Look at the author and illustrator, including the inside flaps of book covers
- Who is the author? Illustrator? What is their background and experience?
- What is their connection to the tribe?
- What position are they speaking from?
- What is the purpose for writing the book?
- Can you recognize the attempt at authenticity and accuracy?
- Is the research explained or stated?
2. Digest the book's words and illustrations looking for tribe specific representation.
- As you are looking and reading, use your personal knowledge to look for accuracy and authenticity.
- Watch for stereotypes and homogenization (clumping tribes into one).
- If you find yourself with questions, do some quality research!
- Consider the setting and watch for oversimplification in describing characters.
- Be cautious of descriptions of ceremonies and the use of deity in the culture in a casual manner. Always do your research!
Highly Recommended Books
We are happy to share book recommendations with teachers with our three-step process for vetting Native American children's books as described above. While these books can get any teacher started with a culturally rich and responsive collection of children's books, we invite teachers to do their own research to vet and determine the best books to use in their classroom. Acquiring knowledge on the content and context of these books empowers teachers with personal connections to the content and fosters empathy to share with students.
The following three lists describe 1) the books we personally enjoy and readily share with educators to use in the classroom, 2) books we sometimes use but make sure to point out inaccuracies or concerns, and 3) books we have set aside from our own library.
GOOD BOOKS WITH SOME CONCERNS
Brother Eagle, Sister Sky with paintings by Susan Jeffers
Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
CONCERN: It does not provide the authentic recipe for Southwest Fry Bread and it says Navajo were given yeast by the federal government, but they were given Baking Soda.