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Curriculum Level: 6-8

By Cynthia Shail-Rains, Immaculata Catholic School, Durham, North Carolina

This lesson is an opportunity for students to recognize that Native American women’s stories offer valuable insights on their life experiences and American history.

Students will learn about Native American women, listen to their stories, and recognize that these voices offer contributions to enrich their understanding of US history and culture. Students will do this by watching videos about the women, completing a research chart based on the video, discussing the challenges and impacts of the lives of the women, and creating one-pagers for a gallery walk for the class to share and compare.

SUGGESTED GRADE LEVELS: Grade 8, content could be applicable for Grades 9-12

SUBJECTS: Social Studies, English Language Arts


North Carolina Social Studies

  • 8 H.1.3 Explain how slavery, segregation, voter suppression, reconcentration, and other discriminatory practices have been used to suppress and exploit certain groups within North Carolina and the nation over time.
  • 8 H.1.4 Explain how recovery, resistance, and resilience to inequities, injustices, discrimination, prejudice and bias have shaped the history of North Carolina and the nation.
  • C&G.1.5 Compare access to democratic rights and freedoms of various indigenous, religious, racial, gender, ability and identity groups in North Carolina and the nation.
  • 8 I.1.3 Analyze details, central ideas, and inferences from sources using discipline-specific strategies.

 North Carolina English Language Arts

  • 8.3 Analyze how a text makes connections among and distinctions between individuals, ideas, or events
  • 8.7 Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using different mediums to present a particular topic or idea.
  • 8.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one on one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
  • 8.2 Analyze the purpose of information presented in diverse media and formats and evaluate the motives behind its presentation.
  • 8.4 Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with relevant evidence, sound valid reasoning, and well-chosen details; adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks. SL.8.5 Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest.


  • What can people learn from challenges faced by Native American women?
  • What impact have these challenges had on their lives?
  • How can the voices of Native American women be better acknowledged in US society?


  • Students will be able to conduct research by watching videos about a Native American woman.
  • Students will be able to analyze one Native American woman by the challenges she faced and how they impacted her life.
  • Students will celebrate her achievements by designing one-pagers.

Native American women offer insights, leadership, and contributions for both their own tribal communities as well as to the world at large. Despite all that they contribute, many people do not know who these women are. To ensure that Native American women’s voices are heard in the classroom, this assignment will teach students that Native American women are “still here” as an important part of American society and offer contributions and insights valuable to all people.

Some of the videos include biographies while others are interviews with the women themselves.

(2023, November 1). “How to Celebrate Native American History Month in the Classroom.” Newsela Blog.

Keene, A. (2021). Notable Native People: 50 Indigenous Leaders, Dreamers, and Changemakers from Past and Present. Ten Speed Press.

Morris, A. (2018, October 8). “Teaching about Native American Women Leaders.”  SPLC Learning for Justice.

Smith, K. (2023, October 20). “18 Teacher Resources on Native American History and Culture.”  Facing History and Ourselves.


  • This lesson could take 3-5 days of 45-minute classes.
  • Using videos versus using transcripts of videos should make the interviews more accessible to students who face challenges with reading comprehension, such as ESL or EC, or focus (ADD/ADHD). In addition, students can use closed captioning when watching the videos to follow along more closely.
  • This lesson could be used by students in high school.
  • AIG Enrichment could use this plan.

Day 1

1) Before beginning this lesson, the teacher should upload the choice board handout to an online system, like Google Classroom, for easy student access and preview all videos to consider the appropriateness for their students. The teacher should also pick one video to use as the model for the class for the assignment with the research chart.

2) The teacher will begin the lesson by asking the class to brainstorm a list of Native Americans, suggesting that students think beyond history and consider Native American actors, musicians, athletes, writers, and so on. The teacher will follow up with a discussion about why students might struggle with this question.

  • Possible discussion questions could include:
    • Why might they know only the names of a few Native Americans?
    • What Native Americans are included in their history books? Are any of them women?

3) The teacher will lead the class through a study of one woman’s experience (teacher’s choice) using the choice board to select a video and provide a research chart for each student to complete as they watch the video.

  • The teacher will play the video chosen.
  • Students should complete the chart by themselves first as they watch the video.
  • After the video ends, the teacher should review the chart and video with the class, making sure that all students have completed the chart as much as possible with the video.

Day 2

4) Teachers will begin this day by reviewing the choice board with the class and by providing a blank research chart for each student. Students will select one woman’s video to watch. Alternatively, the teacher could assign students to a person as well.

5) Students will watch the videos and complete the research chart as they watch.

6) After completing their own chart, students will partner up in class and, using Teach-Pair-Share, compare the women they learned about, noting challenges faced, similarities and differences found, and the impact of the women’s lives.

7) The teacher will lead the class in a discussion about what they learned after the student pairs have had time to discuss. Possible discussion questions include:

  • What challenges did your person face?
  • How did this person deal with these challenges?
  • What impact did this person have on their communities?
  • Who is telling their stories? How important is it to have the stories be in the person’s voice?
  • Why should people learn about these stories?

Days 3-4

8) After reviewing the research chart and the rubric for the one-pager, each student will create one-pagers about the woman they researched. Students will use paper and colored pencils/markers or use digital options like Canva or Google Slides.

Day 5

9) After the one-pagers are completed, the class will hold a gallery walk. While viewing the one-pagers, students will recognize connections or comparisons using sticky notes.

  • Each student will receive six sticky notes (3 of each color if possible).
  • Students will write the name of their person on each sticky note. If using two colors, one color is for similarities and one is for differences.
  • As students participate in the gallery walk, they will leave their sticky notes on the appropriate one-pagers, identifying ones that share similarities with their person and ones that are different from their person.

10) Teachers will follow up the gallery walk with a class discussion, using several one-pagers as examples and having students discuss the similarities and differences noted. Teachers will conclude the lesson by asking students how else Native American women’s contributions should be acknowledged and shared with future students.

Teachers can assess the one-pagers and student participation in the gallery walk with a rubric.


  • Students could share their one-pagers with other classes in the school.
  • A class could select one local (from their state or region) Native American woman to research and then advocate for that woman to be acknowledged with a statue or commemorative plaque.
  • The one-pagers could be displayed in school hallways, especially during Native American Heritage Month.



“Queen Lili’uokalani.” (2020). UNLADYLIKE2020, Unladylike Productions, LLC. Retrieved on December 6, 2023.

“Susan La Flesche Picotte.” (2020). UNLADYLIKE2020, Unladylike Productions, LLC. Retrieved on December 6, 2023.

“Zitkala-Sa/Gertrude Simmons Bonnin.” (2020). UNLADYLIKE2020, Unladylike Productions, LLC. Retrieved on December 6, 2023.

NOTE: The UNLADYLIKE series videos are also available on PBS Learning Media. Both UNLADYLIKE 2020 and PBS Learning Media offer support materials for the videos.

(2010-2024). About. Joy Harjo.

(2017). Meet Matika. Matika Wilbur.

(2024). Susan La Flesche Picotte: First Native American Physician, 1889. Nebraska Public Media.

(2024). Suzan Shown Harjo. Britannica Kids.

(2024). Wilma Mankiller. Britannica Kids.

(2022, March 29). Queen Lili’uokalani: Ala Kahakai National History Trail. National Park Service.

(2022, September 1). Zitkala-Sa (Red Bird/Gertrude Simmons Bonnin). National Park Service.

American Masters. (2024). Lily Gladstone: Far Out There [Video]. PBS. (March 14, 2023).

Baynham, J. (2023, October 16). Rising Star: UM Alumna Lily Gladstone Breaks Through. Montanan.

Jennings, K. (2022, November 7). A visit with contemporary Native American artist Senora Lynch. North Carolina Arts Council Blog.

Margolis, M. and A. Montiel. (2022, February 11). Mary Golda Ross: Aerospace Engineer, Educator, and Advocate. Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

NC Museum of History. (2021, January 13). NCMOH AIHC 2020: Senora Lynch, Artist, Potter (Session 2) [Video]. YouTube.

New Mexico Museum of Space History.  (2023, March 31). Mary Golda Ross: First Native American Aerospace Engineer [Video]. YouTube.

PBS Newshour. (2019, September 19). US poet laureate Joy Harjo on opening a ‘doorway of hope’ for indigenous artists [Video]. YouTube.

PBS Newshour. (2023, November 19). How Osage Dancer Maria Tallchief became America’s 1st Prima Ballerina [Video]. YouTube.

Ridley, N. (ND). Topics in History: The Story of Nanyehi: a Powerful Indigenous Cherokee woman. Pearson.

Smith, D. (ND). Rising from the Red Clay: The art of Senora Lynch pays tribute to her Haliwa-Saponi community. Carolina Country Blog.

Smithsonian NMAI. (2014, September 23). Nation to Nation: 17 Great Nations Keep Their Word—Suzan Shown Harjo [Video].

Stories of Appalachia. (2020, February 7). Nancy Ward [Video].

Thomas, H. (2019, November 19). Maria Tallchief: Osage Prima Ballerina. Library of Congress Blogs: Headlines and Heroes.

University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. (2019, March 29). Demystifying Q&A with Matika Wilbur [Video]. YouTube.

UW Video. (2014, March 6). A Modern Pioneer in the Cherokee Nation (Wilma Mankiller) [Video].

Viola, H. (Winter 2019). Mary Golda Ross: She Reached for the Stars. American Indian, 19(4).

Wilson, E. (1994, January 1). Nancy Ward. NCPedia.