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Susan O'Rourke | September 30, 2021

As fall settles in, many teachers in the U.S. are gearing up to celebrate autumnal traditions and the Thanksgiving holiday with their students. Institutions like the National Museum of the American Indian and Plimoth Patuxet Museums and organizations like Learning for Justice (formerly Teaching Tolerance) have put together a number of resources for educators looking to dig deeper into the history of the holiday, the Wampanoag people, and the complex and diverse cultures of Indigenous cultures in the United States. UNC World View encourages you to check out the following resources centered on Indigenous voices and the importance of a harvest to communities across the globe as you prepare your upcoming lessons. 

The National Museum of the American Indian 

The National Museum of the American Indian has developed an excellent set of teaching resources that includes: 

Learning for Justice 

Learning for Justice has also developed a series of articles and lesson plans that challenge simplified histories of Thanksgiving and bring greater attention to Indigenous cultures and struggles. 

Plimouth Patuxet Museums 

Plimouth Patuxet provides insight into historical and archaeological work being done in the region through 


This time of year also presents an excellent opportunity for educators to globalize their curriculum and introduce students to harvest festivals around the world. Check out the resources below to help initiate discussions of global harvest festivals in your classroom. 

The New Yam Festival  

Celebrated in parts of the “yam belt” in western Africa, the New Yam Festival is a day of thanksgiving and a celebration of community, generosity, agriculture, and the arts. The celebration includes “sacrifices of thanksgiving at both the individual family and community levels,” the ceremonial preparation of the yam in each household, and “[clearing] footpaths to the community and streams,” and masquerades. Leaders also celebrate people’s economic and cultural contributions to the community. The festival is also celebrated in Papua New Guinea.  



Celebrated in Korea, this harvest festival takes place on the 15th in the 8th month in the lunar calendar. Over the holiday, many people travel home to be with their families. When together, “families traditionally start the day’s festivities with a memorial service known as charye which commemorates their ancestral heritage with enough songpyeon (half-moon rice cakes) for everyone to enjoy.” The three-day holiday is filled with dancing, music, and traditional games like yut,  


The Homowo Festival  

Celebrated in the Accra region of Ghana, the Homowo Festival commemorates a time of renewed abundance. The festival recalls the trials the Ga people experienced when they first arrived in the Accra region after leaving Nigeria in the 17th century. Faced with famine, the Ga people “fasted and prayed, then began farming [maize] and had an excellent crop.” Thus, a maize dish, kpoikpoi (also called kpekple) is one of the centerpieces of the celebration. The festival provides an opportunity to celebrate the Ga people’s cultural heritage and ability to overcome challenges—both historical and contemporary. The celebration, which typically takes place in August, includes parades, meal sharing and celebrations of community across towns.