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 annualy 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 Peopls 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. We recognize and affirm that globally, Indigenous peoples continue to be impacted by the legacies of colonization and we uplift their collective resilience.
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 Indigenious 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 and Spanish
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!
Listen to the Lived Experiences of Indigenous Peoples
VIDEO POEM on Native and Black identity by Andrina Wekontash Quonuwayu Smith
VIDEO on the meaning of 2 Spirit
ARTICLE “Yes, You Can Be Native & Jewish”
WEBINAR on the Afro-Indigenous Experience
VIDEO of Ohlone Youth Summit, Tule Boat Voyages
VIDEO on Indigeneity and Latinidad
Learn About Ohlone Peoples & Local Indigenous Organizations
VIDEO of Corrina Gould, founder of Sogorea Te’ Land Trust
VIDEO “In the Land of my Ancestors” about Ohlone elder, Ann-Marie Sayers (for older youth and up)
BROCHURE Native Peoples of the East Bay Past & Present
LISTEN to the song,”This is Ohlone Land” by the Alphabet Rockers
INVEST in local Indigenous businesses at the Indigenous Red Market in Oakland
GET INVOLVED with Sogorea Te’ Land Trust
SUPPORT the preservation of sacred Shellmounds in West Berkeley
Muwekma Ohlone Tribe
American Indian Child Resource Center
Intertribal Friendship House
Native American Health Center
Lift Up and Celebrate Indigenous Cultures With Your Family
LISTEN “Fire Song” performed by Anthony Sul & RedStar
LISTEN “Spirit of the Land” performed by Anthony Sul & RedStar
VISIT the Museum of the American Indian in Novato
VISIT the California Indian Museum & Cultural Center in Santa Rosa
EXPERIENCE Ohlone food at Cafe Ohlone
TASTE Indigenous food by Crystal Wahpepah, of Wahpepah’s Kitchen
READ books together, curated by the Berkeley Unified School District Library Team
VOLUNTEER with Sogorea Te’ Land Trust
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 Teaching Guide provides educators with lessons, teaching tips, and other resources to teach about the Thanksgiving holiday.
Lifting Up BUSD Staff Indigenous and Native Voices
In celebration of our Indigenous and Native community, this year BUSD has introduced “Lifting Up Indigenous and Native Voices,” a campaign to share our staff narratives with our students and community by creating posters featuring their stories and experiences. These posters will be displayed at schools, work sites, on the BUSD website, and in district publications. Sharing these narratives with our students will allow them to deepen connections with Indigenous and Native staff across the district.
Please click on the image to see a full-sized poster.
Professional Development Coordinator
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