Native American Heritage Month Teacher Lesson Plan and Resources

Share the importance of Native American Heritage Month with your students. Bring classrooms to life with MY HERO's Multimedia Resources and Lesson Plan for Teachers. Includes discussion guide and learning outcomes.

Native American Heritage Lesson Plan
Credit: MY HERO


National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month is celebrated in November to honor the history and culture of the native peoples of America.



Suzan Shown Harjo is a living hero.Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee, she is an activist who has been fighting for Native American rights since the 1960s.


Suzan Shown Harjo

By: Marilyn Huerta
Suzan Shown Harjo is a living hero.Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee, she is an activist who has been fighting for Native American rights since the 1960s.


Students read the story and analyze the portrait to learn about Chief Joseph, leader of the Nez Perce Native American tribe of the Pacific Northwest, who tried to keep his native lands and bring peace.

The story is available in English and Spanish. Students consider the discussion questions and activities. 


A leader of the Nez Perce tribe, a Native American tribe of the Pacific Northwest, United States

Chief Joseph (HINMATON-YALAKIT) by Robert Shetterly
Credit: AmericansWhoTelltheTruth.org

Chief Joseph

By: Jennifer Beck

Chief Joseph led the Nez Perce tribe in an effort to keep its homeland. 

Jefe Joseph (español)

By: Jennifer Beck

“La Tierra es la madre de toda la gente y toda la gente debería tener derechos iguales dentro de ella.”


Students read the story about Chief Oren Lyons, an advocate for biodiversity. Analyze the portrait, paying attention to the text Robert Shetterly included in his art.

Then consider the discussion questions and activities. 


Chief Oren Lyons

By: Aibanrihun Lyngdoh

Chief Oren Lyons is an internationally venerated advocate for preserving biodiversity.

Oren Lyons

By: Robert Shetterly

Native American faithkeeper, human rights advocate, and environmental activist



Students watch one or all of the following films and consider the discussion questions and activities. 


Water Is Sacred

Produced by:Mentors: Tiana and Wakinyan LaPointe
2020 MHIFF Ocean Conservation Award student winner: When we pray with water, it helps our bodies and the earth, and we say Wopila Tanka (Immeasurable Thanks) for its medicine.


Daunnette Moniz-Reyome | BYkids
Daunnette Moniz-Reyome (age 17) lives on the UmoNHon Native American reservation in Nebraska and wants to inspire her peers to celebrate their culture...

Sokinaa' Passkaan Aassisstoi (Healing Bells)

Produced by:Wapikoni Mobile
This film is inspired by true events. Through an emotional approach, we discover resiliency through dance.

Stories of TRUST - Arizona

Produced by:Christi Cooper-Kuhn, Katie Lose-Gilbertson, Kelly Matheson

Young Navajo artist Jaime Lynn Butler campaigns to save the environment of her beloved American Southwest. (6:45 minutes)

Smoke That Travels [Trailer]

Produced by:Kayla Briët

What happens when a story is forgotten? I'm making a film about my dad, Gary Wiski-ge-amatyuk, my family, and what it means to be Native American today. (2:21 minutes)

Yellow Woman - A Hero Report Excerpt

Produced by:Betty Bailey & Camille Manybeads Tso
Camille Manybeads Tso tells an inspiring true story of Native American Heritage.

Mni Wikoni ~ Water is Life

Produced by:Charles McMahon

Shot over 5 days as 300 tribes from around the world came to support the the Standing Rock Sioux in their resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline. (7:20 minutes)


Students read one or all of the following inspiring stories before considering the discussion questions and activities. 

Note: Some stories included are written for younger students, and some are available in both text and audio so students can listen as they read. 


Frances Manuel, Native American Woman Hero

By: Deborah Neff, MY HERO Staff writer
Frances Manuel, who was born in the early part of the 20th century, quietly changed the world of her people and the people she met through her basket weaving and cultural presentations.

Ralph Walter Perdue

By: Clara from Fairbanks

"In 1962 my grandpa was a part of forming the Fairbanks Native Association. He accompanied the late Bill Carlo and Poldine Carlo. All three of them worked together to help our native community, basically starting an advocacy for local natives."


By: Wendy Jewell

Nyla Innuksuk is an exciting young indigenous filmmaker who is pushing the boundaries of filmmaking, going beyond 2 D (flattie) films to VR/AR and 360 with her Mixtape VR company. Check out her journey to date.

Chief Wilma Mankiller

By: Susannah Abbey

Chief Wilma Mankiller was the first woman to serve as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.


Great for ESL/EFF Students and Emerging Readers

The following two stories have text and audio so students can listen and read along.


Maria Tallchief

By: Rebecca Miller

Maria Tallchief was the first Native American prima ballerina in the United States.

Sarah Winnemucca

By: Isabelle from Wallingford

Sarah Winnemucca was an advocate for Paiute rights.


The following two stories are written by young writers for young writers.

Recommended for Upper Elementary-aged students.


Christine Quintasket

By: Catherine from Trumbull

Christine Quintasket was the first published Native American woman author.

Baje Whitethorne

By: Olin Smith

Baje Whitethorne is a celebrated Navajo painter and author.

Discussion Questions and Activities

1. Smoke that Travels and Yellow Woman are films about family and each filmmaker's heritage. Interview one of your older family members, and consider filming your interview. What challenges and obstacles did they or other members of your family face, and how did they overcome them? Share their story with MY HERO.                      

2. In Stories of Trust, Jaime Lynn Butler is concerned with global warming and climate change. What issues are you concerned about? What can you do? Create an action plan, get others involved and share the story of your efforts with MY HERO.      

3. Mni Wikoni - Water is Life is about Native Americans banding together to protest the Dakota Pipeline due to their concerns about water pollution. Research the Dakota Pipeline. What has the environmental impact been?  

4. Why is it important to celebrate the history and continuing contributions of Native people?

5. Are there any Native Americans located in your state? Research to learn about their history. 

6. Do you know anyone who is a Native American? Consider filming an interview. Share his or her story with MY HERO.

7. Who is someone you admire from your heritage? Share his or her story with MY HERO. 


Students analyze the painting below by Native American Artist Rex A. Begaye, who was born and raised in the Navajo culture and tradition. Go to the link in the MY HERO Art Gallery to read the description of the visual elements used, as well as the artist's thoughts on who is a hero. 

Use color and symbolism to create a visual representing your culture and traditions or one of your heroes. Submit your original art to the MY HERO Art Gallery.


A lyrical interpretation of enlightenment according to Native American traditions

Universal Enlightenment
Credit: Rex A. Begaye

Additional Artwork

Winona LaDuke is a Native American Harvard graduate economist, environmentalist, activist, author and executive director of Honor The Earth.
Winona LaDuke
Credit: K. E. Harleston

The Earth is a medicine, she gives everything to us. Again, the respect lies there, respecting life, what is important, even if it is not of our own.

- Native American Heritage -
Credit: Rex A. Begaye

Stories from the Christian Science Monitor

Indigenous peoples and the borderless beat
Credit: CSM
Native Americans reclaim lacrosse
Credit: Collette Davidson
Samuel Sandoval, Navajo Code Talker, remembered for love of homeland
Credit: Sam Green/The Cortez Journal/AP/File
Black Native Americans were largely erased from US history
Credit: CSM


Laura Nietzer

The Native American Heritage Month lesson plan was created by MY HERO Education Outreach Director Laura Nietzer.

MY HERO Calendars for use in the Classroom

MY HERO's Teachers Calendar Features Lesson Plans and Multimedia Resources

Teachers Calendar
Credit: MY HERO

Learn about a New Hero Every Day of the Year: Use the MY HERO Calendar in the Classroom

Students can share their Hero Essays, Films and Art through our Create Program

How to use MY HERO's Create Program to Publish Stories, Art, Film and Audio for Students

Tutorial for students: Publish written stories, film, original artwork and audio in MY HERO's multimedia library.

Create Program
Credit: MY HERO

Outstanding essays submitted to MY HERO will be considered for a certificate/t-shirt prize or be featured on the Story Homepage.

Submit your artwork to be entered in the MY HERO art contest or to be exhibited on our Gallery Homepage.

Students can submit their films for free with a waiver to the MY HERO International Film Festival.

Related MY HERO Pages

Native American Heritage Month Showcase
Credit: MY HERO

Related External Links

Organizer created on 9/30/2019 3:00:39 PM by Laura Nietzer

Last edited 6/27/2023 12:08:54 PM by Laura Nietzer