The Berkeley Unified School District celebrates Indigenous Peoples’ Heritage Month to commemorate the histories, traditions, and important contributions of the many diverse Indigenous cultures to our nation.
On November 19, 2020, the Board of Education adopted a resolution to annually recognize the month of November as Indigenous Peoples’ Heritage Month, and resolved BUSD schools promote instructional activities and celebrations honoring the history, contemporary issues, and culture of the Indigenous People’s of the Americas.
November is Indigenous People’s Heritage Month, also known as Native American Heritage Month, which is an important time of year for our community to reflect on the vital role of the first and original stewards of these lands we now call the United States. Our schools reside on xučyun (Huichin), the ancestral lands of the Lisjan Ohlone (Leeshawn) and Muwekma Ohlone tribes. We acknowledge and celebrate their ongoing role in Berkeley and their current day activism to preserve sacred shellmound sites, revitalize Indigenous practices and the Chochenyo language, and to rematriate land back to Indigenous stewardship.
As part of our district vision for students, “Our students embrace diversity, act responsibly, and contribute to our community.” To that end, our School Board passed the resolution, Declaring Annually the Month of November as Indigenous People’s Heritage Month. We will continue to deepen our commitments to support our students to embrace and learn about the diversity of Berkeley’s first peoples. These resource guides for educators and families are just one small way that we are working toward this
Through our Rethinking Thanksgiving Teaching Guide, we also invite community members to consider the painful legacy of Thanksgiving for many Indigenous peoples and the nuanced perspectives around this time of celebration and also mourning.
Enikia Ford Morthel
November is known as Native American Heritage Month, Indigenous People’s Heritage Month, as well as American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month
Why the different names?
As with any group of people who have some unifying lived experiences, shared histories and identities, there will also be a wide variety of opinions and ideas about what words best describe such a diverse community. American Indian, Indian, Native American, Indigenous, and Native are just a few of the words that people use. Many people also prefer to have their specific tribal name referenced. Whatever the case may be, identity is deeply personal and as much as possible, it is important to build relationships and learn how people personally identify themselves, rather than guess.
For more information about terminology, visit this link to the National Museum of the American Indian.
Guides for Families in English, Spanish, and Arabic
These guides are available to support families in honoring and celebrating the heritage of Indigenous Peoples. Included are suggestions of songs, videos, and activities to Listen, Learn, Lift Up, and Love!
Reading Lists for All Ages
These reading lists, organized by grade level, represent books published in the last 5 years that are devoted to celebrating, representing, and affirming Indigenous heritage, featuring Indigenous authors, characters and the North American Indigenous experience.
All of these books are available through Berkeley school libraries as a physical and/or digital book. If an ebook is available through Sora, you can access it by clicking the cover of the book. For more information about any of these books, or to check one of them out, ask your school librarian.
TK-8 Teaching Resources
This diverse collection of resources was compiled by Joemy Ito-Gates, BUSD’s Ethnic Studies TSA in collaboration with the Professional Development Team.
This TK – 8 Rethinking Thanksgiving Teaching Guide provides educators with lessons, teaching tips, and other resources to teach about the Thanksgiving holiday.
Get Involved and Learn More
Intertribal Friendship House | Oakland
American Indian Cultural Center | San Francisco
American Indian Child Resource Center | Bay Area
Native American Student Development (NASD) | UC Berkeley
Native American Cultural Center | Stanford University