Teaching Indigenous History and Literacy with Primary Sources

AHA Session 21
Thursday, January 6, 2022: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Preservation Hall, Studio 2 (New Orleans Marriott, 2nd Floor)
Kevin P. Bower, Nebraska Wesleyan University
Iain Anderson, Northeastern State University
Trico Blue, Tahlequah Middle School
Christopher H. Clark, University of North Dakota
Farina King, Northeastern State University

Session Abstract

This roundtable unpacks a collaboration between historians, a scholar of Native American Studies, a social studies curriculum expert, and a middle school teacher. The panelists will discuss their journey to support secondary education instructors with learning resources that integrate Indigenous primary sources and historical inquiry.

Since 2018, the Indigenous History and Literacy Project (IHLP) at Northeastern State University in Oklahoma has brought professional development in social studies pedagogy to 4-12 grade educators interested in building active learning history lessons, improving reading comprehension, and developing resources that speak to the Native identities of their students and region. IHLP has developed and delivered learning resources and workshops for teachers and students from across northeastern Oklahoma. As part of its current research project, investigators observe and assess how cooperating secondary school educators teach with IHLP learning resources and evaluate the work produced by their students.

In this roundtable, panelists talk about the challenges and possibilities of developing a project that has especially focused on Cherokee histories affiliated with Northeastern State University, which was initially established by the Cherokee Nation as the Cherokee National Female Seminary in the mid-nineteenth century. Lesson plans and sources have focused on federal Indian boarding schools, the Cherokee National Female Seminary, and Cherokee engagement with both the Union and Confederacy during the Civil War in Indian Territory. In particular, the roundtable engages the search for sources that project Indigenous voices, and the participants’ desire to showcase the heterogeneity of Native American experience. It charts the project members’ endeavors to reconcile historical thinking pedagogy with Indigenous educational ways and the impact of COVID-19 on the project design.

Drawing upon their experiences developing the Indigenous History and Literacy Project, participants will share insights, strategies, and resources for finding, selecting, and teaching sources by Indigenous peoples. They will illustrate their roundtable with learning resources developed for the IHLP and share preliminary research findings based on their deployment of these lessons in the middle school classroom.

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