Do US Schools Teach Native American History?

Native American history has been a significant part of the American story for thousands of years. However, for a long time, it was not given the importance it deserved in the US education system. It is only in recent years that efforts have been made to include Native American history in school curriculums.

History of Native American Education in the US

Native American education has a complex history in the US. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Native American children were often taken from their families and sent to boarding schools run by the government or religious organizations. These schools aimed to assimilate Native American children into mainstream culture by forbidding them from speaking their native languages and practicing their traditions.

It wasn’t until 1975 that the Indian Education Act was passed, which recognized the unique educational needs of Native American students and provided funding for schools that served them.

Current Status of Native American Education

Today, many schools across the US do teach Native American history as part of their curriculum. However, there is still much room for improvement. According to a survey conducted by National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), only 8% of states include information about contemporary Native Americans in their K-12 social studies standards.

Furthermore, even when Native American history is taught, it is often limited to a few topics such as Thanksgiving or famous Native Americans like Pocahontas or Sacagawea. This approach ignores the vast complexity and diversity of Native American cultures and histories.

The Importance of Teaching Native American History

Teaching accurate and comprehensive Native American history is essential for several reasons:

  • Cultural Understanding: Learning about different cultures helps students develop empathy and understanding towards people who are different from them.
  • Historical Accuracy: Native American history is a crucial part of American history and should not be overlooked or whitewashed.
  • Identity: For Native American students, seeing their cultures and histories represented in the classroom can help build a sense of pride and identity.


In conclusion, while there have been efforts to include Native American history in US schools, there is still much work to be done. It is essential that schools teach accurate and comprehensive Native American history to promote cultural understanding, historical accuracy, and identity for Native American students. By doing so, we can help create a more inclusive and just society for all.