Indigenous Peoples' Day: Resources for Educators

Ancestor Approved

Learn more about Indigenous Peoples' Day, why many communities and states throughout the U.S. have embraced this observance, and how to help deepen understanding about Indigenous peoples throughout the Americas.

Image: Cover art by Nicole Neidhardt (Diné) from Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids, edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee).

What is Indigenous Peoples' Day?

Indigenous Peoples' Day: Why it's replacing Columbus Day in many places

Since the 1990s, a growing number of states have begun to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day — a holiday meant to honor the culture and history of the people living in the Americas both before and after Columbus' arrival. In this Q&A from The Conversation, Susan C. Faircloth, an enrolled member of the Coharie Tribe of North Carolina and professor of education at Colorado State University, explains the history of Indigenous Peoples Day and what it means to American education.


American Indian History: Books for Young People

These books offer young people the opportunity to deepen their own understanding of the history of Native peoples throughout North America. From picture books to atlases, these titles challenge the depictions of Native history that so many students have encountered in schools and popular culture, reframing that history while also highlighting important events, accomplishments, and cultural traditions.

Recommended books for children and young adults

Indigenous Peoples' Day

By Katrina Phillips

This award-winning book introduces children to Indigenous Peoples' Day. The second Monday in October is a day to honor Native communities, their histories, and cultures. Readers will discover how a shared holiday can have multiple traditions and be celebrated in all sorts of ways.

Winner of the American Indian Youth Literature Award.

Author Interviews

Cynthia Leitich Smith: Why powwow is central to the "Ancester Approved" anthology

In this excerpt from her upcoming Colorín Colorado interview, award-winning author Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee) explains why she chose to center the short story anthology she edited, "Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids" (Heartdrum, 2021), at the Dance for Earth powwow in Ann Arbor, MI.

To see more about Cynthia's books and about Heartdrum, the Native-focused publishing imprint she started, see her website and blog, Cynsations.

Juana Martinez-Neal: Illustrating Fry Bread

Juana Martinez-Neal describes the respect her family instilled in her for the Indigenous communities of her native Peru and the influence that perspective had on her illustrations for the award-winning book "Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story" by Kevin Noble Maillard.

Joseph Bruchac: Writing Code Talkers

Joseph Bruchac (Abenaki) talks about the opportunity to write a novel about Diné (Navajo) code talkers and his research process for the book.

Classroom Resources

For additional resources, see the following: