Week Before Thanksgiving: Brief Link to Native American Culture

Wonderopolous: What Does it Mean to Be a Native American

Wonder of the Day for November 22, 2014
What Does It Mean To Be a Native American?
Wonder Video
Have You Ever Wondered?
  • What does it mean to be a Native American?
  • Where did the first Native Americans come from?
  • How many Native American tribes exist today?
Did You Know?
Since 1990, each November has been set aside as Native American Heritage Month. During this month, people all over the United States celebrate and recognize the major contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the country.
Much of what we know about the history of America comes from events recorded by European colonists who first came to America in the early 17th century. However, Native Americans — the indigenous (native) peoples of North America — lived in these lands for thousands of years before that.
Experts believe the first Native Americans came from Asia. Thousands of years ago, what is now Siberia in Russia was connected to what is now Alaska in the U.S. by a land bridge. This area across the Bering Sea was called Beringia.
People were able to cross Beringia into what is now Alaska. Over thousands of years, many different and distinct tribes and ethnic groups crossed over into this new territory and began to spread across all of what is now North America. Many of these tribes still exist today.
These early Native Americans lived mainly off the land, relying upon hunting and gathering of wild plants and animals. They occupied land for use by the entire community. This is very different from the European colonists’ concept of ownership or individual property rights.
After the arrival of European colonists, Native Americans suffered many deaths due to diseases brought from overseas. There was also increasing conflict with the colonists who wanted to “civilize” them and teach them unfamiliar farming methods.
After the Civil War, westward expansion brought western Native American tribes into greater conflicts that resulted in a series of “Indian wars.” Over time, many tribes were forced to give up their lands as a result of treaties to end these wars. Many of these tribes were given new or different lands to establish as reservations to live on.
Today, there are approximately two million Native Americans living in the U.S. and about one million in Canada (where they’re called “First Nations” instead of Native Americans). These nearly three million Native Americans in the U.S. and Canada speak over 150 different Native American languages.
At times, the terms used to refer to Native Americans have been controversial. According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, though, it appears that most Native Americans prefer to call themselves American Indians or simply Indians.
The Native Americans in the U.S. can be divided into over 560 separate tribes. Even though they’re all considered Native Americans, their languages, clothing, customs and cultures can vary greatly from one tribe to another.
These diverse tribal cultures celebrate their unique identities and contributions in many ways. Through independent newspapers, community schools, tribal councils, native colleges, museums, arts and crafts programs and language preservation, the modern descendants of these many tribes continue to survive and thrive in the modern society they helped to build.
Wonder Words
ethnic, heritage, native, property, thrive, tribe
colonist, community, contribution, establishment, territory, treaties
civilize, descendant, expansion, indigenous, reservation, statistics
Try It Out
We hope you enjoyed learning more about the first Americans today! Grab a friend or family member and keep exploring the following activities:
  • Do you have a tribe? Even if you’re not a Native American, your family and friends might constitute a close-knit tribe of your own. If you had to define your tribe, who would be in it? What is special about your tribe? What makes it unique? How would you describe your tribe to others?
  • If you had to name your tribe after an animal, what would you call it? For fun, check out the links below to learn the Native American words for certain animals in the languages of five different tribes. Choose an animal and a language and figure out what the Native American name would be for your tribe.
  • Up for a challenge? Learn more about the Native Americans that lived in the area you now call home. Do some Internet research to find out which tribes occupied your home area long ago. What were they like? What were they known for? What types of houses did they live in? Have fun learning more about the ancestors who once lived where you live today!

EQ: Why did Europeans immigrate to the United States?
EQ: Why did Europeans immigrate to Wisconsin?

ImmigrationAnimoto - Immigration AnimotoQuestions and answers to be recorded on Edmodo.
  • After watching the video, what emotions do the pictures spark?
    Why did these people want to leave their home country?
    Why did they want to come to the United States in the 1800's?
    How did they know about Wisconsin?
    How long do you think they traveled to get to their final destination?
    What do you think the people ate and drank while on the ship?

Immigration Power Point

Read Coming to America, The Story of Immigration by Betsy Maestro

American Heritage - Discovery Education Movie Click Here.

Brief clip of Irish Immigration (1:17) Sad period in Irish history

Map of Europe Map of Prussia

Meet Seymour Rechzeit - A Poland Immigrant Meet Seymour
Create a word document from the text, read it together, reinforce main ideas and details.

Immigration activities - Scholastic

Recipes from a Norwegian Family Kitchen

Brain Pop - Immigration

Brain Pop


Can you trace your family tree back to the old country? In this BrainPOP movie, Tim and Moby discuss the movement of people from other countries into the United States. You’ll learn all about how immigrants have impacted the growth of the country, from the earliest settlers in the 1600s to the waves of new arrivals in the 19th and 20th centuries. Find out how Ellis Island played such a big role in the history of U.S. immigration. Tim also touches on the immigration debate of today, explaining the forces that continue to push both legal and illegal immigrants into our borders.

Discover Wisconsin - Ozaukee County (forward to clip about Luxembourg immigrants)

Ellis Island - A tour of Ellis IslandLet's create our own classroom immigration graph! Immigration Graph
Ellis Island

Recent Immigrants -Meet three recent immigrants

Immigration Project
4th Grade Immigration websites and information

Immigration Project Information Sheet
*Helpful German Immigrant website http://library.thinkquest.org/20619/German.html
Immigrant Quadrant Sheet
Sample Immigrant Diary Entry
Rubric for Diary Entries and Bundles

Research and Information sheet about student immigrant ancestor