Lesson Plan

Native American Cultures Across the U.S.

Sioux Indian woman in ceremonial dress, 1925
Photo caption

Sioux Indian woman in ceremonial dress, 1925.

"The term 'Native American' includes over 500 different groups and reflects great diversity of geographic location, language, socioeconomic conditions, school experience, and retention of traditional spiritual and cultural practices."

—Debbie Reese, Teaching Young Children About Native Americans

Children's literature, movies, and other media often perpetuate generalized stereotypes, whether positive or negative, in their representations of Native American peoples. Teaching children about the First Americans in an accurate historical context while emphasizing their continuing presence and influence within the United States is important for developing a national and individual respect for the diverse American Indian peoples, and is necessary to understanding the history of this country.

Guiding Questions

How are American Indians represented in today's society?

What objects and practices do we associate with Indian culture?

What are some actual customs and traditions of specific Native American groups?

What are some cultural traditions and customs that have changed over the centuries?

Which ones have continued into the present?

Learning Objectives

Analyze the relationship between geography, time, and Native American culture and history.

Examine multiple sources and perspectives to understand diversity within and across Native Americans. 

Compare how American Indians are represented in today's society with their actual customs, traditions, and way of life.