We all have a heritage, adopted or not. And there is an amazing amount of fulfillment that comes from exploring our roots and celebrating them. And with hundreds of Native American adoptees, there is ample cause for celebration this month—and every month! To make this a month to remember, celebrate the Native American heritage with your adopted children each day. Following are some ideas to get you started:
1. Play the “States Game” as a family or invite neighbors to join in. Begin the game by sharing how so many of the names of the states in the U.S. have their origin in Native American language. A quick internet search will give you all the information you need. Then seat the game-players in a circle and hand a rolled up newspaper to the child standing in the center of the circle. Each player chooses a state. When his/her state is called, the player stands and shouts out the name of another state before the player in the center taps them with the rolled-up paper. The child whose state was just shouted is the next to stand and shout. Play continues until a player gets tapped and becomes the new “it” in the center.
2. Explore the traditions of your child’s tribe. There are many, many tribes within the Native American community. Create a craft unique to your child’s tribe. Some Native American crafts are detailed and time-intensive. Consider using some time each day of the entire month to create the craft item, and end the month with a craft show or a performance. Ideas for crafts include drums, beaded head bands, pottery, and baskets. Encourage your child to be the main creator of the craft, even if the result is less than perfect. Displaying the craft will help instill in your child pride and a stronger connection to his/her heritage.
3. Create a meal or two from your child’s Native American heritage. Food is not only essential to life, but also a great part of our American social culture. One child-friendly meal is Native American fry bread. Either use bread dough made from scratch, or to simplify, use pre-made biscuits in a can, flatten them out, then deep fry them. For a meal, top with cheese, meat and vegetables. To eat as a dessert, top with butter and honey. For those with a sweet tooth, add jam or powdered sugar!
4. Teach your children that Native Americans passed along their history through storytelling. Spend an evening encouraging your children to create their own stories. Hold a storytelling “festival” with family and friends and give prizes to each participant. One suggested prize is a string of pony beads, with a bead for each story told, or a different colored bead for each character in the child’s story.
Help your children know that their heritage is important! There is great value in the contribution of Native Americans to our society. Pride in and gratitude for heritage will help instill strong values and a desire to live in a way that will carry on the positive attributes of your child’s culture.