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Native American Heritage Month 2015

Street Law, Inc.

Over 40 years of educating about law, democracy, and human rights

Native American Heritage Month 2015

November is Native American Hertiage Month! We've pulled together some FAQs and structured a jigsaw activity to help teachers and students learn about and tribal law and court cases, as well as celebrate the significant contributions of the first Americans.

7 FAQs about Native American Law and Tribal Governments

Download "7 FAQs for Native American Heritage Month 2015" for answers to the following questions:
  1. What “legally” makes someone an American Indian? Is there any difference (or similarity) to identifying as this versus as another racial/ethnic minority? Is there are a difference between a Native American and an American Indian?
  2. What does it mean to be a federally recognized tribal nation? How many of them are there in the U.S. as of November 2015?
  3. What are reservations? How have they been affected by U.S. law?
  4. Who are some American Indian champions of law who students should know more about?
  5. What are some recent legal updates in the world of American Indian law and tribal governments?
  6. What are some extra resources teachers can use to talk more with their students about American Indian culture and history?

One way to teach about Native Law in your class:

The following teaching strategy is called Jigsaw; it allows for students to dive deep into smaller amount of textual information, summarize it, and find a way to teach it to the rest of the class. This strategy works well with understanding many different complex topics, without spending too much time mired in rote instruction of each and every concept.

  1. Select the native law concepts or cases that you want the students to grasp. You should select 3-6 concepts or cases.
  2. Put the students into groups. If you select 3 topics, you need three students in each group, if you select 4 topics, you need 4 students per group, etc. Assign a letter to each group. These are the students’ HOME groups. Have them all write their home group letter at the top of their worksheet. Then, assign one student in each group to each case or concept. For example, if you were doing a jigsaw with concepts of native law, one student would be assigned to “what are reservations,” one to “what does it mean to be federally recognized,” one to “recent Supreme Court cases,” etc.
  3. Now have the students regroup by case or concept. All the students assigned to the first case or concept in one area of the room, and the second in another area, the third in another area and so on. These are the EXPERT Groups. If there are more than 4-6 students for each case or concept, have them split into two or more expert groups.
  4. Give each expert group a reading about their topic or case. It should be a page or less in length. The expert groups should all read their material and then discuss it and answer any questions. They should then decide which portions of the material the students in the other groups need to learn about. They should create a list of points to teach other students.
  5. After the allotted expert time, ask students to return to their HOME (letter) groups.  Each student (or pair if you have uneven numbers) will be asked to spend 5-7 minutes teaching their other group members about their case or concept. Other students should take notes and ask questions.
  6. At the conclusion, every student should have studied one case or concept in depth and learned about several others from their HOME group members.