Native American Indian & Indigenous Peoples Studies- Teacher Resources

Hello Teachers, Parents, and Students!
Our office will often receive a high volume of questions about Native American culture, history and teachings. Sometimes we also receive numerous reports from our participants about inappropriate lesson plans and craft activities displayed and taught in schools to our children. Lessons about the “Pilgrims and the Indians” as well as students making and wearing feather headbands. These are always discouraging and offensive to the Native American students who attend these schools, considering there are over an estimated 700 Native American students in the Chicago Public Schools system.
     We recognize it can be difficult for teachers to research credible and alternative activities for students and in an effort to provide a simple introduction to Native American Studies for teachers we have provided a short list of websites, books, and instructional activities. All of the books listed below are available at our American Indian Family Resource Center/Office at Field Elementary in the Rogers Park neighborhood. We highly encourage teachers to make use of these materials and for parents to print out this information to provide it to your child’s school; you are an essential part of making positive changes happen!
     We are always available to take your call or set up meetings for any questions or concerns you may have. Contact us at 773-534-2735 or feel free to visit either of our office locations.

Top 5 Frequently Asked Questions about Native American Indians

Are there still Native Americans around today? Are there any in Chicago?
Yes. There are over 5,220,579 Native American / Alaskan Natives, comprising 1.7% of the total U.S. population. Chicago has a population of 26,933 Native American / Alaskan Natives, making us the 7th largest city in the nation with a Native American population. The number one city is 111,749 in New York, NY. This data is from the 2010 U.S. census and does not include First Nations which are indigenous people from Canada.

How many tribes are representated today?
There are 566 federally recognized tribes in the United States. A federally recognized tribe means the tribe has a government to government relationship with the U.S. and is considered to be a sovereign nation.

What exactly is a ‘Reservation’ and do all Native Americans live on them?
A reservation is an area of land managed by a Native American tribe under the United States Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. There are 324 federally recognized American Indian reservations. Yes, people still live on the reservations today but many Native American people live all throughout the United States in different towns and urban cities as well.

Do all Native Americans live in teepees?
No. “Native Americans are diverse, and each groups’ practices have changed over time, but that does not diminish their authenticity. Today at sun dances, powwows, and other events, members of some Plains tribes set up teepees. The Iroquois use a longhouse for ceremonial functions many tribes in the great lakes use wigwams for ceremonies. In parts of the Southwest hogans and pueblos are used for both ceremonial and everyday shelter.” (This excerpt is from the book “Everything You Wanted to Know about Indians But Were Afraid to Ask” by Anton Treuer)

Do all Native American Students get to go to college for free?
No. This is a very common myth, some tribes do offer scholarship programs; however there are guidelines students must meet such as a good GPA, essays, etc, as well as meeting certain blood quantum qualifications. Blood quantum restrictions means you must be recognized in your tribe as having a minimum percentage of that tribal ancestry.

Resources for teachers:

Children’s Classroom Activities:

The American Indian Family Resource Center has added more titles to its resource collections! Click on any of the links below to view our inventory:

Books for Adult Readers (age 16+)

Books for Young Readers

Books_Research materials and Resources


Teachers: The CPS AIEP program is committed to providing resources and alternate reading materials for American Indian Studies in the classroom. Contact our staff for more information.

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