Inside: Celebrating Indigenous Peoples in Spanish class. Beyond your typical Thanksgiving in Spanish class. Instead, acknowledge the original peoples of the lands that now speak Spanish during Native American Heritage Month in November. Indigenous Peoples Day should be every day in Spanish class.
Día de la Raza vs. Columbus Day vs. Indigenous Peoples Day
Coming up in mid-October, we have the day formerly known as Colombus Day. Some refer to it as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. In many Spanish-speaking places, October 12th has become Día de la Raza, acknowledging the fusion of indigenous and Spanish cultures. But, many people want nothing to do with the colonizers, for example in 2021 the day in Belize was changed to Indigenous Peoples’ Resistance Day.
As a Spanish teacher, there is SO MUCH that you could discuss and unpack regarding this complex holiday. One big thing you could do is make sure to teach about and celebrate the Indigenous Peoples of the Western Hemisphere.
Why focus on Indigenous Peoples in Spanish class?
First, the Spanish-speaking people are not a monolith like some of our (especially small town) students think. In small-town Iowa, I worked hard to break stereotypes. One big one was that Spanish speakers are from Mexico and a tan, mustached man in a sombrero. Intentionally, each year I showed the diversity of every country that speaks Spanish. As well as to show the beautiful diversity of Afro-Latinx communities. Plus, this includes gender diversity as well.
I realized that I did not do a great job of emphasizing and celebrating the original peoples of the land that now speaks Spanish. It was brought up in our learning about Día de muertos, our Hispanic Heritage Music Bracket, and the show Street Food Latin America, but there could have been a more explicit emphasis. So once we know better, we need to do better. Here are some of my favorite resources to celebrate and teach about Indigenous Peoples in Spanish class.
First up, if you want to skip Thanksgiving and instead showcase the diversity of the Indigenous People of the Spanish-speaking world, check out this newer music resource. In particular, you could use one song per day or a music bracket for Native American History Month in November.
The included diverse music celebrates the Indigenous People of Latin America. These songs for any Spanish class acknowledge the original people of the land that now speak Spanish. The majority of the songs are in Spanish by Indigenous musical artists. Plus, these slides include songs or parts of songs in Emberá, Kaqchikel, Garífuna, Quechua, Tzotzil, Zapoteco, Mapudungun, Tz’utujil, and Nahuatl. Use this music as a start for the representation of Indigenous Peoples in Spanish class.
TV Programs That Highlight Indigenous Peoples
*Maya y los 3
Also, there is a new limited series on Netflix. Maya y los tres is set in precolonial Mesoamerica. It is fantasy but brings in many cultural elements of the diverse cultures that lived on the land that is now Mexico. Different than many feature-length films, the nine episodes are about 30-35 minutes. If you want to show one or more episodes, check out many resources in this new blog post. There is a guide here on TPT for episode 1 if you want to try it out. Or get the same Maya y los 3 guide here. The 32-minute first episode would be a great one-day sub-plan.
*Street Food Latin America
This series on Netflix does a great job highlighting a variety of Indigenous cultures. Multiple of the episodes are centered on current Indigenous women including Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, and Mexico. Last year my combined Spanish 3/4 class used episodes of this show as our regular show for class. The students loved learning about real life, and current people with this show. There are amazing resources created by Bethanie Drew, Maris Hawkins, and Kara Jacobs that can be found here.
Films that show Indigenous Cultures in Spanish class
Next, the beautiful animated movie Pachamama is only on Netflix that I have found. It goes great with the themes of indigenous cultures of South America and the environment. There is a guide here that is in both Spanish and English. Or you can get the same Pachamama Guide in my store. You can use variations in every class you teach. While it is animated it sparked deep conversations in my Spanish 4 about the conquest of Indigenous lands by the Spanish. If you want to turn it into a full film unit, check out many resources in this blog post.
*Dora & the Lost City of Gold
Also, Dora y la ciudad perdida goes great with the themes of indigenous cultures of South America as well. There is a guide here on TPT that is in both Spanish and English. Or you can get the same Dora guide in my store. You can use variations in every class you teach. It is a real people movie and fans of the original Dora will appreciate the nods to the original. If you want to learn more, you can find many resources in this blog post.
*El camino de Xico
Additionally, El camino de Xico was actually created in Spanish in Mexico. You can learn more about the film in this blog post & I have a guide that can be found here on TPT or El camino de Xico in my store. This authentic animated film focuses on a group of indigenous people in Mexico versus the capitalists wanting to come in and destroy their land. It also includes themes of the environment, including fracking, which would make for great high school or college level discussion with units on El medio ambiente, global challenges, and climate change.
Native America Heritage Month Resources
November is Native American Heritage Month. Beyond Indigenous Peoples’ Day in October, November is another time to intentionally celebrate the original inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere. Depending on where you live reaching out to the native people of your region is a great place to start for resources.
Who’s Land Am I On?
This website is a great place to start in regards to land acknowledgments of where you currently live and/or teach.
*Native American Heritage Month Printable
Next, check out this blog post for a one-page printable in both Spanish and English for an activity focusing on the original people of North America.
*Native American Heritage Month site
Also, the official NativeAmericanHeritageMonth.gov has a page of resources for teachers. They are in English but include some good resources.
Finally, this video would be perfect for upper-level students to discuss the discrimination in Mexico toward the indigenous population.
Other Blog Posts That Celebrate Diversity
- Black History Month in Spanish class
- Pride in Spanish class
- Hispanic Heritage Month in Spanish class
- Asian Pacific Heritage Month – Asian-Latinx Resources
- Vivo in Spanish Class
- Upper-level films focusing on Indigenous Peoples
Other Fall Blog Posts you might be interested in
- Thanksgiving in Spanish class
- Thankful Turkey
- How To Teach Gratitude in Spanish Class
- Día de muertos in Spanish class
- Coco in Spanish Class
- The Book of Life in Spanish class
How you can incorporate Indigenous Peoples in Spanish class
I hope that you have some new ideas to acknowledge and recognize Indigenous voices during November, as well as all year long. If you want to showcase the diversity of the Spanish-speaking world, this newer music resource is a great place to start. If you have other resources or ideas for Spanish class, please let me know and I will add them.
Indigenous Peoples in Spanish class was originally posted 10.25.21 by Allison Wienhold – most recently updated 10.30.23 on Mis Clases Locas