Indigenous Perspectives Presentation Outline
Protocol for Discussing Racial History
Speak without fear of retribution (sharing experiences and ignorance)
Seek understanding through vulnerability
Embrace difference without erasure
How important is terminology?
Indian, Native American, Indigenous, Aboriginal, Tribe, Tohono O’odham/Papago,
Dine/Navajo, prehistoric, hunter/gatherer, etc.
How do you include American Indian history in your classroom?
How do the new standards treat American Indian history?
Defining Indigenous Perspective
Indigenous: originating or occurring naturally in a particular place; native
Perspective: particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; point of view
Is Indigenous Perspective different from Black, Chicano, Asian, Multicultural
Do you have to be American Indian to understand Indigenous Perspective?
Including Indigenous Perspective
“Originating”—American History Originates with Indigenous History
“Particular Place”—Tucson (O’odham word) has been part of the traditional homeland of
the Tohono O’odham, and is the present day home to the Yaqui/Yoeme whose traditional
homeland is in present day Mexico. 34, 848 Urban Indians (2000 US Census) currently
live in Tucson, and Arizona is home to 22 federally recognized tribes.
Student Diversity at TUSD:
American Indian 4.1%
Asian American 2.6%
TUSD hosts students from 140 different tribes.
Why Include Indigenous Perspective
Acknowledges Experiences/Existence of American Indian Students
Encourages All Students to Respect Minority Cultures and Emphasizes that Minority
Students are Becoming the Majority Population
Ensures Richer Understandings of the Diverse Histories of People Who Contribute to
American History and Identity
Identifying Indigenous Perspective
Papago Indians wandered through the desert, surviving extreme drought conditions by
eating seeds and cactus, and drinking water found in puddles.
The Sonoran Desert was home to Indians, saguaro, and coyotes that adapted to a hostile
environment of extreme temperatures and unreliable water sources. Together, these
features defined the Southwest.
Tohono O’odham tribal members developed in-depth knowledge of the Sonoran Desert
ecology to support small villages through cultivation of drought-resistant crops in the
summer and by harvesting nutrient-rich foods year-round.
Common Flaws in Historical Narratives
American Indians are Monolithic and Simple
Examples: Using generalizations rather than tribal specifics
When Columbus met the Indians, they were peaceful and innocent, living off the land and
sharing all they had. Women performed much of the physical labor, while men held
council fires to make important decisions.
American Indians Exist Only in the Past
Examples: Chronicling Indian/white encounters as if Indians disappeared
After winning the French and Indian War, British colonists claimed control of the Great
Lakes Region, the Ohio Valley and the Northeast.
American Indians are Tragic Victims
Examples: Epic accounts of white brutality against tribal people
The Cherokee Trail of Tears forced thousands of Cherokee men, women, and children
outside of their ancestral homelands and ended their hopes for federal recognition of
tribal treaty rights.
Break for Q&A:
What are some of the challenges you face in bringing American Indian history into the
What do you think is valuable in American Indian history?
What is the relationship between American Indian history and Social Studies?
Judging Historical Narratives About American Indians
Many resources available reviewing current material on American Indians
TUSD’s Native American Studies Department has resources for teachers
Identify inaccurate terms (squaw, papoose, chief, redskin, warrior, Great Spirit)
Avoid broken English or poetic license (Tonto and Medicine Man)
Notice token Indian names (Little Chief, Indian Two Feet, Beautiful Dancer)
Choose active verbs and present-tense descriptions
Avoid comparisons between animals and tribal people
Discourage assumptions that Indians must choose between their traditional past and their
Identify costumed or caricatured depictions of American Indians (non-tribal specific
Choose responsible accounts of gender relationships and tribal political structures
Consider whether tribal leaders are credited with making rational decisions
Avoid historical explanations that make American Indians victims of progress
Determine whether American Indians are dependent on non-Indians for survival
Choose sources that explain tribal power as equal to state and federal governments
Indigenous Perspective Basic Rules
Will American Indian students feel justly represented in your lesson plan?
Will non-Indian students better understand contemporary Indian experiences?
Do American Indian historical actors appear as contributors to modern American society?
Including Indigenous Perspectives in Your Lesson Plans
SS7: S3: C4: PO5: Describe the Impact of Constitutional Amendments and laws (i.e.,
Dawes Act) that came about during the historical time periods studies
Dawes Act (Allotment Act) of 1887 divided tribal land holdings into individual plots held
by tribal residents. The Dawes Act aimed primarily to instill a desire to own private land
in American Indians and aid in their general assimilation. However, Congress sold the
tribal lands remaining after allotments were distributed among residents and so profited
from the Act as well.
Summarized text of the Dawes Act through PBS.
Great site from National Archives and Records Administration using two Indian Country
Maps, the Dawes’ Act, and Will Rogers’ tribal enrollment records in a Lesson Plan easily
adapted to Middle School level. Must-have for teaching the Dawes Act.
Good background information on Dawes Act for teachers interested in teaching this
chapter in American Indian history
SS7: S1: C7: PO8: Identify the following groups’ contributions to the changing social
and political structure of the United States: b. Social Reformers
Zitkala-Sa (Gertrude Simmons Bonnin), Lakota, 1876-1938
Educator and Political Activist
Supported American Indian Self-Government, American Indian Citizenship, and
Opposed Bureau of Indian Affairs
Widely Published in Atlantic Monthly and other popular periodicals
Founder of National Counsel of American Indians, 1926
Member and Supporter of Society of American Indians (SAI)
Middle-school appropriate content on Zitkala-Sa
Extensive biographical data on Zitkala-Sa
Well-rounded essay on Zitkala-Sa’s personal and professional career
SS8: S3: C3: PO9: Describe the impact that the following Acts had on increasing the
rights of groups and individuals: c. Indian Rights Act of 1968
Indian Rights Act of 1968
Few Americans realize that American Indians are not protected by the civil rights
outlined in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, or even subsequent Constitutional
Amendments. American Indians did not become citizens until 1924, and many states,
including Arizona, withheld American Indian suffrage until after World War II.
American Indian legal status is determined by the tribal-federal government relationship
and American Indian civil rights are outlined in the Indian Rights Act of 1968, also
known as “the Indian Bill of Rights.” These rights are slightly different than those found
in the Constitutional Bill of Rights and reflect the independence of tribal governments in
managing their own judicial processes. Encourage your students to discuss the
differences between this bill and the Bill of Rights enjoyed by other American citizens.
Summarized text of Indian Civil Rights Act from Caddo Nation website.
Wall Street Journal article from 2/01/07 examines the status of Tohono O’odham and
Pascua Yaqui civil rights under tribal courtroom procedures.
Normally I don’t recommend Wikipedia, but this article introduces the origins and
intentions of the Civil Rights Act and provides some comparison to the general Bill or
An interesting timeline of American Indian activism from 1960 to present from PBS.
SS8: S1: C8: PO4: Explain how the following factors affected the U.S. home front during
World War II: e. interment of Japanese-, German-, and Italian-Americans.
Japanese Internment in Arizona Indian Country
American Indians have participated in every American war since the Revolutionary War,
and World War II was no exception. In Arizona, Native troops served in World War II
even though they still did not have the right to vote. Two Arizona tribes also leased their
lands to the War Relocation Authority for internment camps housing Japanese-
Americans. The relationships established between Arizona Indians and Japanese interns
is more understandable when we realize that both groups had struggled to prove their
American loyalties, but remained largely marginalized geographically and socially.
Although the links below focus primarily on Japanese-American experiences, remind
your students that less than fifty years before internment, tribal members had been forced
onto these very same reservations, had been housed in boarding school dormitories
similar to those shared by the interned Japanese, and that both Japanese- and Native-
Americans had served in World War I and World War II.
Poston Restoration Project is a group of Colorado River Indian Tribal members, Poston
Detainees, and interested supporters working to restore the Poston Camps. Their website
includes information on tribal and Japanese relations during internment at Poston,
background information on Japanese-American and Colorado River Indian Tribe
histories, and a rich photo gallery.
PBS site on the history of internment that includes primary documents, photographs,
timelines, and statistical data. Also includes some information on reparations.
Excellent site built by University of Arizona focusing on relocation camps in Arizona.
The site includes an extensive list of even more links on Arizona internment camps.