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Native American Misconceptions


  • Language Arts
  • Social Sciences


  • Pre-K
  • K-2
  • 3-5

Brief Description

Highlight Native American stereotypes in students' drawings of an American Indian child at home.


Students learn misconceptions of Native Americans in the drawings they make.


Native American, American Indian, stereotype, misconception, multicultural, diversity, tolerance

Materials Needed

drawing materials

Lesson Plan

Begin this lesson by asking students to draw a picture of a Native American child in his or her home surroundings. The children may draw pictures that include many generalizations about Native Americans. (For example, a student who lives in the Northwest might draw a American Indian standing beside a totem pole. But totem poles are not part of every American Indian tribe's culture. They are a regional phenomenon.) This is a perfect opportunity to expose some of the other stereotypes students have of Native American people. Among the stereotypes teachers might point out are the following:

  • Teepees -- Teepees were common to some Plains Indian tribes but not to many other tribes.
  • Warbonnets -- Some tribes wore warbonnets, but Hollywood planted headdresses in the American conscience.
  • Bows and arrows -- Some tribes hunted with bows and arrows, but most tribes used a wide variety of tools and weapons in hunting.
  • Headbands -- Many Native Americans wore headbands to keep their hair out of their eyes, but they were not typical of most tribes' dress.

The discussion of the children's pictures might lead to blasting some other stereotypes. (For example, today most Indians speak the English language, live in homes like other people's, go to college, drive cars, and shop at grocery stores.)

Extension: Discuss with elementary students stereotypes of Native Americans they might see in the media.


Ask students to make a list of statements about stereotypes that might not be true of all American Indians.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins

National Standards

Language Arts:

Social Sciences: