Native Curriculum by Native People: Yes, it exists!
The news is littered with stories of teacher missteps and stereotypical, outdated representations of Native Americans in school curricula. As a part of California's Truth and Reconciliation process California's government must invest resources into new educational materials that highlight the strengths of Native Americans, and shine light on the violent legacy of American colonialism.
While curriculum specific to California's 110+ Tribal nations will likely take years to fully develop, there are plenty of solid options for educators who want to include authentic Native perspectives, written and approved BY Native peoples.
We've included some examples below. In the comments, please include links to any other curriculum options that already exist!
Here are some examples:
Redbud Resource Group
We offer three curriculum units for free on our website. The first, Healthy Ecosystems Feed Healthy Communities (developed with CIMCC) features Pomo ecology and ecosystem resiliency lessons, followed by six lessons focused on Indigenous foods and food access. These lessons are designed for grades 7+, and can be incorporated into a range of classroom subjects, from ecology to humanities to statistics and biology.
The second unit, Ethnic Studies Support Lessons, introduces students to the basics of Native identity, exploring sovereignty, race and belonging, and relationship to place. Lessons cover myths and assumptions about Native communities, cultural revitalization, and cultural visibility.
Our third unit Acorns All Around Us is designed for early childhood education settings, and introduces students to California Indigenous foods and values.
The California Indian Museum and Cultural Center (CIMCC) has a number of high quality educational materials on their website that can be used in K-12 classroom settings. Their STEM Maker lessons include robotics and weaving activities, while their CA Mission materials feature guided tours of CA missions from the Native perspective. Their Seven Essential Understandings provide guideposts to educators who are unsure of the kind of Native knowledge they should incorporate into their classrooms.
The National Museum of the American Indian's Native Knowledge 360 program features hundred of high quality lessons for students K-12, covering a range of topics from stereotypes to Native science. Their lessons expand beyond just the Native American experience in the U.S. to include Indigenous perspectives from Latin America as well.
Save California Salmon works with Tribes across California to bring awareness to issues around water rights, ecosystem health, and Tribal sovereignty. Their Advocacy and Water Protection Curriculum helps high school students develop skills needed to advocate for the environment and for Native communities.
Developed by the Indian Land Tenure Foundation, Lessons of Our Land has lessons for grades K-12, that span regions and Tribal nations. Their lessons are great for exploring Indigenous worldview, relationship to place, basic political concepts, and Native scientific knowledge.
Run by the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, Run4Salmon is a non profit focused on water rights and protection. Their work highlights the inseparable relationship California's Native people have to the land, water, plants, and animals within our shared ecosystem. Their Run4Salmon curriculum, designed for elementary school, is accessible, interactive, and full of Winnemem Wintu perspective.