Recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the Classroom

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Recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the Classroom

October 11th is Indigenous Peoples’ Day. On October 8th 2021 Indigenous Peoples’ Day became formally recognized as a national holiday! This is a day to learn, observe, reflect, create, and connect through story and creation. On October 11th we recognize the strength and vast positive impact that Indigenous People have made on the U.S.. Many have chosen to counter-celebrate Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day because of the violent history of colonization in the Western hemisphere. There is a horrific legacy of entire cultures being violently and systematically eradicated. There are also amazing stories of strength, fortitude, and deep connection to the earth and other people. Indigenous history is vast and doesn’t begin and end with either of these stories. This can be a maze for educators. The experience of Native Americans is often overlooked or glossed over in the classroom. Researching the subject is a great first step. We hope this article is able to help you to decide how to recognize Indigenous People’s Day in the classroom.

Should Columbus Day still play a role in the classroom?

Columbus Day was established to celebrate the “discovery” of America. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is not meant to erase and replace Italian American contributions. However we cannot only tell one side of the story. Currently many students believe that American history begins with the Declaration of Independence. When in reality our roots are much deeper. Christopher Columbus is certainly a historical figure who changed the world, however positioning him solely as a brave explorer is no longer intellectually honest. His “discovery” paved the way for slavery and genocide and much more. For many Native people in the U.S., Columbus Day represents a celebration of dispossession and genocide.

Lesson Plans

Indigenous Peoples’ Day 2020 : Teaching Tolerance gives a few recourses to help educators recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the classroom.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day Resources :  The Zinn Education Project offers a series of lessons, books, films, podcasts, and websites for teaching students about the history of Columbus and the natives who resided in America originally.

Columbus Day or Indigenous Peoples Day? : ADL has a high school lesson plan teaching students about Columbus Day and the reasoning behind why some have renamed it Indigenous Peoples’ Day.


Rethinking How We Celebrate American History – Indigenous Peoples’ Day : The Smithsonian Magazine has published this article on rethinking how we commemorate American history.

9 Ways to Observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day with Children

Resources to Teach Indigenous Peoples’ Day :  San Diego County office of education’s article with resources for teaching students Indigenous Peoples’ Day.              


An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States

We Are Water Protectors

Indigenous Peoples’ Day

We Are Still Here

An American Sunrise

Native American and Indigenous Charities to Donate to

Native American Rights Fund (NARF)

Native Wellness Institute

Warrior Women Project

Sitting Bull College

First Nations COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund

The Redhawk Native American Art Council


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