Exploring Native American Literature in High School

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Exploring Native American Literature in High School

Native American literature is one of the most vibrant and culturally rich forms of literature available today. For high school students, delving into Native American literature opens up new avenues for connection, empathy, and historical understanding, making it a crucial addition to any high school reading list.

The Role of Native American Literature in High School Curriculum

Native American literature is often neglected in standard high school curriculum, which favors the works of Western literary giants like Shakespeare and Dickens. However, including Native American literature in high school reading lists provides students with an opportunity to expose themselves to diverse perspectives, experiences, and cultural histories.

Studying Native American literature enables students to explore themes such as belongingness, identity, and cultural preservation that are relevant to Native American communities as well as many other cultures around the world. Through the stories and voices of Indigenous authors, students can engage in critical thinking and gain a deeper appreciation for the diversity of experiences and perspectives that exist in our world.

Examples of Native American Literature for High School Students

There are many great works of Native American literature that would be ideal for high school students. One notable example is “House Made of Dawn” by Native American author N. Scott Momaday, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1969. This novel is a coming-of-age story that follows the journey of a young Native American man named Abel as he tries to reconcile his Native American identity with his experiences in modern American society.

Another excellent work of Native American literature is “Ceremony” by Leslie Marmon Silko. This novel deals with themes of cultural trauma and grief as a Native American World War II veteran returns home to his reservation and must navigate the aftermath of his experiences in the war.

Other notable works of Native American literature for high school students include “Reservation Blues” by Sherman Alexie, “Love Medicine” by Louise Erdrich, and “The Round House” by Louise Erdrich.

The Benefits of Integrating Native American Literature into High School Curriculum

By integrating Native American literature into high school curriculum, educators can help foster a greater appreciation for diversity and cultural understanding among students. This can lead to more empathy, respect, and a deeper understanding of the historical and contemporary experiences of Native American peoples.

Additions like Native American literature to high school reading lists also provide opportunities for students to develop important critical thinking and analysis skills. By examining the themes, symbols, and motifs in these works, students can better understand the complexities of literary expression and develop important literary analysis skills that will serve them well throughout their academic careers and beyond.


Integrating Native American literature into high school curriculum is essential to promoting diversity, cultural understanding, and empathy. Teachers should consider incorporating Native American literature into their classroom readings and encourage their students to explore these works for themselves. By doing so, educators can promote a deeper appreciation of diversity and highlight the rich and varied cultural histories that make up the diverse tapestry of our world.

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