CoverIntroductionAligning Activities to Key Civics and Government ConceptsDefining Critical Media LiteracyTopic 1. Foundations of the United States Political System1.1 Social Media Policies and Community Standards on YouTube, Twitter, TikTok and More1.2 The Internet as a Public Utility1.3  21st Century Women STEM Innovators1.4 Media Coverage of Kings, Queens, and Royal Families1.5 Representations of Native Americans in Films, Local History Publications, and School MascotsTopic 2. The Development of United States Government2.1 Declarations of Independence on Social Media2.2 Media Marketing and Government Regulation of Self-Driving Cars and Electric Vehicles2.3 Representations of and Racism Toward Black Americans in the Media2.4 Political Debates Through Songs from Hamilton: An American Musical2.5 Bill of Rights on TwitterTopic 3. Institutions of United States Government3.1: Hollywood Movies About the Branches of Government3.2: Writing an Impeachment Press Release3.3: Members of Congress' Use of Social Media3.4: Political Impacts of Public Opinion Polls3.5: Website Design for New Political PartiesTopic 4. The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizens4.1: Immigration in the News4.2: Portrayals of Immigrants in Television and Film4.3: COVID-19 Information Evaluation4.4: Women Political Leaders in the Media4.5: Online Messaging by Special Interest Groups4.6: Digital Games for Civic Engagement4.7: Social Media and the Elections4.8: Images of Political Leaders and Political Power4.9: Media Spin in the Coverage of Political Debates4.10: Celebrities' Influence on Politics4.11: Political Activism Through Social Media4.12: Media Recruitment of Public Sector Workers4.13 Deciding What Books Students Read in School4.14: Images of Teachers and Teaching4.15: For Whom Is and Could Your School Be Named4.16: Representing Trans Identities4.17: Media Framing of the Events of January 6, 20214.18: Music as Protest Art4.19: PACs, Super PACs, and Unions in the Media4.20 Brands and PoliticsTopic 5. The Constitution, Amendments, and Supreme Court Decisions5.1: Prohibition in the Media5.2: The Equal Rights Amendment on Twitter and Other Social Media5.3: Civil War Era News Stories and Recruitment Advertisements5.4: Representations of Gender and Race on Currency5.5: The Equality Act on Twitter5.6: Reading Supreme Court Dissents Aloud5.7: Television Cameras in CourtroomsTopic 6. The Structure of State and Local Government6.1: Native American Mascots and Logos6.2: A Constitution for the Internet6.3: Military Recruitment and the Media6.4: Your Privacy on Social Media6.5: Pandemic Policy Information in the Media6.6: Gendered Language in Media Coverage of Women in Politics6.7: Gender-Neutral Marketing of Toys 6.8: Environmental Campaigns Using Social Media6.9: Trusted Messengers, the Media, and the Pandemic6.10: Online Campaigning for Political Office6.11: Advertising the Lottery Online and In Print6.12: Local Governments, Social Media and Digital Democracy6.13: Protecting the CommonsTopic 7. Freedom of the Press and News/Media Literacy7.1: Press Freedom in the United States and the World7.2: Objectivity and Reporting the News from All Sides7.3: Investigative Journalism and Social Change7.4: News Photographs & Newspaper Design7.5: How Reporters Report Events7.6: Recommendation Algorithms on Social Media Platforms7.7: YouTube Content Creators7.8: Fake News Investigation and Evaluation7.9: Paywalls and Access to Online News7.10: Critical Visual Analysis of Online and Print Media7.11: Memes and TikToks as Political Cartoons7.12: Women Reporters in the Movies7.13: Design a 21st Century Indie Bookstore

1.5 Representations of Native Americans in Films, Local History Publications, and School Mascots

More than 8 million American Indian and Alaska Native people live in the United States today, and those numbers are projected to rise to 10 million by 2060 (Indian Country DemographicsNational Congress of American Indians, June 2020).

In 2021, October 11 was declared Indigenous Peoples' Day by President Joe Biden and November was proclaimed National Native American Heritage Month.

Reverse of the 1 US dollar coin - 2020 - series "Native Americans"
Reverse of the 1 US dollar coin - 2020 - series "Native Americans" by United States Mint picture
Public Domain

Most students, however, learn little about Native people, their lives, cultures, and achievements in schools. The indigenous education organization IllumiNative reports that most (87%) state level history standards do not address Native history past 1900. Do you know the Native American tribes in your state? Or the roles of Native American Code Breakers in World War II? Or the story of Elizabeth Peratrovich, a member of the Tlingit Nation in Alaska who efforts led to the passage of the nation's first anti-discrimination law in 1945?

Much of what students do learn about Native history comes from the media, including movies and television, local history publications, and imagery associated with local and national sports teams.

Hollywood movies and network television shows have long portrayed First American indigenous people in grossly stereotypical terms. Men are depicted as warriors and medicine men. Women are portrayed as either objects of desire or inconsequential members of a tribe. Native peoples are often shown as living in the wilderness or on reservations even though 60% of today's American Indian and Alaska Native population live in cities (5 Common Indigenous Stereotypes in Film and Television, ThoughtCo., January 2021).

Around the country, there are increasing efforts by local tourism and community groups to tell the stories of those left out or marginalized in history through tours, exhibits, and celebrations of important individuals and significant events in Native American, Black, women, and LGBTQ history. For example, "Navajo Tours USA" present Native history in New Mexico, while "Nez Perce Tourism" explores Native sites in the Pacific Northwest. There is an "Unfiltered Truth Collection" in Louisville, Kentucky, a "Truth and Reconciliation" Tour in Montgomery, Alabama, a Black Heritage Trail in Boston, and the Missouri Historical Society operates "Renegade STL" that presents Black, women's and LGBTQ history tours in St. Louis ("Historical Tours Reach Deeper to Include People Long Left Out," Sunday Travel, Boston Sunday Globe, November 7, 2021, pp. 11,13).

The following activities ask you to critically consider how Native peoples have been represented in films, local historical publications and tours, and school names and mascots and how those representations have shaped people's attitudes.

Image preview of a YouTube video
Watch on YouTube https://edtechbooks.org/-KQNE

Activity 1: Analyze how Native Americans are Portrayed in Movies

Designing for Learning: Student-Created Activity Example

Analyze how Native Americans are Portrayed in Movies by Abby Ariagno

Activity 2: Design a Film or TV show About Native Americans' Influence on the U.S. Government

Activity 3: Research & Redesign the First American History of the Place Where You Live Today

Activity 4: Propose a Culturally and Historically Fair School Mascot

Designing for Learning: Student-Created Activity Example

Propose a Culturally and Historically Fair School Mascot by Abby Ariagno

Additional Resources

Connecting to the Standards

  • Massachusetts Civics & Government Standards
    • Analyze the evidence for arguments that the principles of the system of government of the United States were influenced by the governments of Native Peoples (Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for History and Social Studies) [8.T1.5]
  • AP U.S. History
    • Key Concept 1.1
    • Key Concept 3.2
  • ISTE Standards
    • Digital Citizen
      • 2c: Students demonstrate an understanding of and respect for the rights and obligations of using and sharing intellectual property.
    • Knowledge Constructor
      • 3a: Students plan and employ effective research strategies to locate information and other resources for their intellectual or creative pursuits.
      • 3b: Students evaluate the accuracy, perspective, credibility and relevance of information, media, data, or other resources.
      • 3d: Students build knowledge by actively exploring real-world issues and problems, developing ideas and theories and pursuing answers and solutions.
    • Creative Communicator
      • 6a: Students choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.
      • 6b: Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.
      • 6d: Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for the intended audiences.
  • DLCS Standards
    • Ethics and Laws (CAS.b)
    • Interpersonal and Societal Impact (CAS.c)
    • Digital Tools (DTC.a)
    • Collaboration and Communication (DTC.b)
    • Research (DTC.c)
  • English Language Arts > History/Social Studies Common Core Standards
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.6
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.7
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.8
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.6
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.9
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.6
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.7
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.8
  • English/Language Arts Common Core Standards