Native American Heritage Month: 6 Ways to Learn More About American Indian Culture

Disclaimer: The U.S. Department of Education does not mandate or prescribe particular curricula or lesson plans. This information is provided for the visitor's convenience and is included here as an example of the many resources that parents and educators may find helpful and use at their option. See the full FREE disclaimer.

Help children develop a deeper appreciation for Native American culture, with information and activities from the Smithsonian Institute, National Park Service, Library of Congress, and more. National American Heritage Month began on August 3, 1990, after President George H. W. Bush signed a bill into law which made November the national month for honoring Native Americans. Since its signing, we use November each year to honor and learn from the culture and traditions of Native Americans.


  1. Learn About Native American History: Native American Heritage Month can be an opportunity to learn the history of the American Indian. Consider using this month to familiarize children with how Native Americans have influenced America, and foster connections to a different culture. Help your kids enhance their appreciation for history by talking about the different Indian tribes, their geographical locations, and languages.

  1. Visit a museum: Whether you and your kids check out a museum in person or virtually, the artifacts and exhibits of Native American tribes are at your fingertips. Consider helping your kids learn about the stories embedded in Native American art, through artifacts like jewelry, greetings, and cultural beliefs. You could talk about which tribe’s artifacts are your favorite, and take note of the different colors, textures, and traits for each one.

Social Studies

  1. Travel virtually to other cultures: With your kids you can watch videos on native cultural festivals. For example, watching the Living Earth Festival or the Living Aloha Hawaii Festival provides an opportunity to see Native traditions in action. See if your kids are interested in learning about indigenous cultures throughout North and South America, and if they would like to play some traditional games.


  1. Share some stories: Reading exciting stories and poems about Navajo legends, Cherokee tales, and Inuit journeys, for example, could help foster cultural connections for your kids. Story telling was a prominent part of Native culture; ask you kids if they’d like to tell a story to the family about what happened in school or on the playground recently.

Get Moving

  1. Interact with nature: Tell your kids that connecting with nature was an important aspect of Native American culture. Take the family outside for a walk to become more aware of the surrounding environmental features present in your locale. Or, if possible, visit a national park.

Arts Connection

  1. Get inspired by the arts: Hands-on activities, like making a dream catcher, may help spark curiosity about the Native American way of life. See if your kids would like to learn more about Native American music, and the prominent role it has played in this culture. Help your kids find out more about native dances, like a Hoop Dance. Listen to some Native songs and talk about the meaning of them thereafter.


These are a few ideas for activities you can enjoy with your kids while instilling a greater appreciation for Native American heritage and culture.

This feature is based on a blog post that originally appeared on free.ed.gov, a site that is now retired. Please visit ed.gov/FREE for more information.


Last Modified: 12/31/2015