Indian Education Curriculum

The Minnesota Department of Education provides curriculum resources for educators to be used as models, or revised, for use in the classroom.  These curricular resources provide primary, intermediate, middle school, and high school versions of lesson plans in American Indian-centered topic areas: Values, Sovereignty, Oral Traditions, Music and Dance, Leadership, Harmony and Balance, Family Life, Contributions, and Art. Each lesson plan includes learning outcomes, grade-appropriate student readings, worksheets, assessments, and activities.

Content Comments 

According to the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), the purpose of these documents is to provide “research-based, quality curriculum resources for educators to use in the classroom,” and that  “specialty curricula, such as Indian Education, are included to give educators engaging lessons on a particular topic area.” The MDE provides a generous amount of useful content to teachers that can be used by other states. However, the lesson plans are basically provided “as-is”; that is, there is no indication of alignment to any content standards and the anonymous nature of the resources does not suggest involvement of American Indians in the resource-development process. Experienced teachers may be capable of integrating some of the lessons directly into their curricula, but less experienced teachers may need to do conduct background work. The lesson plans are identified for broad categories of students—basically elementary, middle, and high school—without regard for the broad nature of learning skills between different grades, such as early and late elementary. Nevertheless, the valuable content within the resources can be successfully integrated into curricula.

This set of eight lesson plans provides a starting point for educators in developing relevant curriculum plans around American Indian history, culture, and language. Materials include frameworks, with rationales and identified learning outcomes, and context and background information for students and teachers. A basic lesson guide for each grade band provides brief guidance on instructional strategies, materials needed, links to other content areas, assessment tasks, and enrichment activities. These are not comprehensive curriculum guides, nor do they provide any alignments to standards. The student materials and resources are very basic and may need substantive revisions to be engaging and appropriate for students at the different grade levels. However, they provide a structured starting place for developing culturally relevant units/lessons/activities for students, and each comes with a list of resources that provide context, research, primary sources, and classroom tools that can be used to deepen and enrich instruction.