November 5, 2021

MDE, Tribal Educators Promote Understanding for Native American Heritage Month

Michigan Department of Education Press Release LANSING – The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) is committed to partnership with the Confederation of Michigan Tribal Education Departments (CMTED) through the ongoing efforts of MDE’s Indigenous Education Initiative. In the spirit of this partnership, MDE recognizes and honors November 2021 as national Native American Heritage Month.

To help Michigan educators better understand the rich history and contributions of Indigenous peoples in Michigan, the all-Indigenous-women-led CMTED has developed a first-of-its-kind resource guide developed for educators by Indigenous educators.

“We all benefit from an understanding of our separate and collective histories, from a knowledge of the fullest breadth of history,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “The social studies resources developed by Michigan’s tribal educators bring us closer to that understanding.”

The CMTED resource guide is intentionally focused on the more inclusive social studies standards adopted by the State Board of Education in June 2019 that reference tribal nations.

“It is the commitment of CMTED to support the role that K-12 education plays in educating Michigan’s students and educators about the original people of this land,” said Melissa Isaac, CMTED Giigdookwe (leader or chair in Anishinaabemowin). “In turn, it is the ethical responsibility of Michigan’s K-12 educators to make the personal and professional commitment to learn about the land on which they live, work, and play. Intentional and collaborative relationships between CMTED and the K-12 teaching force will help ensure a more informed Michigan citizenry.”

For the first time in Michigan history, CMTED has a platform (cmted.org) to share Indigenous-developed and Indigenous-vetted educational resources with Michigan's educators. The initial resource on the website—Maaaawndoonganan: Anishinaabe Resource Manual—contains CMTED-endorsed instructional materials such as books, podcasts, videos, and websites.

CMTED and MDE hope educators across Michigan embrace these resources as part of lifelong learning and assist in the implementation of Michigan’s social studies standards in classrooms across the state.

“These resources have relevance year-round, not simply in November,” Dr. Rice said. “They help our staff and students expand their knowledge of both history and the present day.”

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 Native American Heritage Month

On August 3, 1990, President of the United States George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating the month of November as National American Indian Heritage Month, thereafter commonly referred to as Native American Heritage Month. The declaration read in part that "the President has authorized and requested to call upon federal, state and local governments, groups and organizations and the people of the United States to observe such month with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities."