November 18, 2013 – LITTLE CANADA, Minnesota—Indian Land Tenure Foundation (ILTF) has created a website with Native American land curriculum for pre‐K and K‐12 classrooms. Lessons of Our Land provides American Indian and non‐Indian students with broader insight and understanding of land, cultures, inherent rights and tribal sovereignty. The nearly 200 searchable lessons are for all educational levels and free to access. “The launch of this website in November coincides with National Native American Heritage Month and the approach of Thanksgiving—for many public school teachers, the only time during the school year they will discuss Native American history in their classroom. We would invite all of them to look through the curriculum and choose at least one grade‐appropriate lesson to replace the old worn out story of the Pilgrims, and perhaps think about adding one other lesson the week after Thanksgiving,” said ILTF President, Cris Stainbrook.
ILTF holds education as one of four main strategies in accomplishing its mission and believes that knowledge is power in relation to land issues. For Native American people, land is tied to other issues such as tribal sovereignty, self‐determination, economic prosperity, cultural practices, sacred sites and treaty rights. Most people are unaware of Indian land tenure issues—land loss, fractionated ownership, loss of economic opportunity, etc.—due to the lack of information, education and knowledge about the history, cultural significance and legal status of Indian lands. Lessons of Our Land is designed to be incorporated in a number of educational subjects and is adaptable to include the history and culture of a region’s Indian nations. The curriculum teaches the Native American story of this land from historical to modern times. Since 2005, the Lessons of Our Land curriculum has been successfully implemented in 105 tribal schools, public schools and colleges in Arizona, California, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, South Dakota and Washington. The diversity in students, location and size of the schools where the curriculum has been implemented have provided valuable lessons and sample modifications that enable successful implementation in a wide variety of educational settings.
Lessons of Our Land’s interdisciplinary components meet state standards in multiple core areas, such as history, art, civics, mathematics, science, geography and language arts. There are a variety of online resources teachers can use to supplement their lessons. Currently, state adaptations are available for California, Minnesota and Montana, and there are general lessons which can be used to teach Native land tenure history anywhere in the United States. ILTF also has grants available for further curriculum adaptation and implementation. To learn more, visit www.lessonsofourland.org.