Combating Discrimination Against First Nations with Education

Native American Children’s Historic Forced Assimilation

We have written in the recent past about the unique plight of First Nations that reside within the United States of America. They are sovereign nations within a nation. I have always been told through my own family oral history that I have Native American ancestry (Cherokee in particular). Perhaps that is why I have always been intrigued and interested in researching and studying the history and culture of the hundreds of Indian Nations that have their roots in the Americas. There are 570 federally recognized tribes in the US alone. Truth be told, I have always identified with my African roots, as that has been the most obvious part of my cultural and ethnic heritage. And quite frankly, it has always been emphasized in my family and community. Much like the black experience in the United States First Nations have had a sad and troubled history. In fact, there is a long history of black and Indian relations. A group known as Black Indians have a history that is inseparable from Native Americans. Racial prejudice, broken treaties, broken promises, murder, rape, poverty and widespread disease has been an unfortunate part of the Native experience in the Americas. The times we live in are no different. In fact, under the current political structure the problems in Native American communities seem to have been exasperated, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 and First Nations
Navajo nations have been hit especially hard by the pandemic. A recent Newsweek article from May 11, 2020 stated that “the novel coronavirus has killed 100 of the more than 3,100 confirmed patients in the Navajo Nation, a Native American territory spanning 27,000 square miles across parts of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.” This is a very high number in relation to the Navajo population. In fact, The Guardian reported that the Navajo territory has “the highest per capita infection rate in the U.S. after New York and New Jersey, two of the worst-hit states in the country.” What makes this even more tragic is that the Navajo nation does not have the same resources as New York or New Jersey to combat the virus. Native Americans continued to get the short end of the stick and were recently overlooked in terms of funding distribution. But thanks to a lawsuit filed against the federal government the Navajo was granted $600 million in federal funding to combat the virus.

Educational Resources for Learning about First Nations
One way to combat discrimination and prejudice against first nations is through the realm of education. In this way, teachers can be intentional about providing lessons that educate students on Native American culture and heritage. Here are some lessons on Native culture and history to get teachers started.  

Lesson Plans
Native American Tribe Teacher Resources
Native American Heritage Lesson Plans and Student Activities
Native American Lesson Plans
Native American Lessons for Middle School Social Studies
Native American Lessons for High School Social Studies
Native American Cultures Across the U.S.
Native American and Alaska Native Heritage Month, Grades K-5
Native Americans Resources for Teachers
Native American Lesson Plans and Learning Activities | Studying Native American Culture At Home Or Classroom
Native American Tribal Cultures
Native American Heritage Month Teacher Resources
Celebrate Native Americans in the classroom


  1. I believe that there isn’t enough coverage on Native Americans. It seems as if we just push them to the side and disregard them. I mean, that is what the government has done. As a part of our nation we need to be including them and spreading awareness. The pandemic has hit us all hard, but there is very little coverage on how the pandemic has affected the Native Americans.

  2. I too have a small amount of Cherokee in my blood. I also think it’s important that we as teachers accurately depicts the lives of Native Americans before and after European colonization. Is important that students get as close to the 100% truth as possible so they can form their own opinions based on fact.

  3. I was curious about potential lesson plans on Native Americans, so I clicked one of the links below for The results were pretty telling as the search showed no lessons available. I feel like your story shows how ethnic identity always plays a greater role in our lives than race, because it is made up. I never knew the complexity of the African diaspora in the early US pertaining to slaves being owned by Native Americans and even intermarrying with them. I don’t think it’s fair to force them have an identity and they should get to choose where they fit in the story. I feel like the overlook of First Nations during COVID is no different than what we have been doing. Many of us forget that they are sovereign nations, aren’t aware of their lack of resources, and lack general knowledge period.

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