Lesson plan; Native American Youth – Challenges and Hope

Learning Objectives:

  1. Students will be able to identify and discuss the challenges faced by many Native American young people today, including poverty, high suicide rates, and limited educational opportunities.
  2. Students will gain an understanding of the concept of historical trauma and its impact on current generations.
  3. Students will recognize and appreciate stories of resilience and hope within the Native American community.
  4. Students will critically analyze media representations of Native Americans and discuss their implications.


  • Begin by asking students what they know about the lives of Native American youth today.
  • Briefly introduce the topic of the radio documentary and explain that students will be learning about the challenges and triumphs faced by many young people in Native American communities.

Activity 1: Listening and Discussion 

  • Play the radio documentary for students. Click on the picture
  • Pause the documentary at key points for discussion, such as:
    • The statistics on poverty, unemployment, and educational attainment among Native Americans.
    • The story of Yvonne “Tiny” DeCory and the Bear Project.
    • Sky’s story and the issue of suicide among Native youth.
    • The importance of cultural identity and historical trauma.
  • After listening to the entire documentary, facilitate a class discussion using questions like:
    • What were some of the challenges faced by the young people in the documentary?
    • What surprised you about the documentary?
    • What are some possible causes of the issues discussed?
    • How do you think historical trauma might be impacting Native communities today?

Activity 2: Research and Analysis

    • Divide students into small groups and assign each group a specific topic related to the documentary, such as:
      • Education disparities for Native Americans
      • The history of boarding schools and their impact on Native communities
      • Suicide prevention programs for Native youth
      • The importance of cultural identity and language preservation
    • Each group will research their assigned topic using provided resources or online sources (with teacher guidance).
    • Groups will then create a presentation or short report to share their findings with the class.

Essay Questions

  1. Discuss the concept of historical trauma and its impact on Native American communities today. How does this trauma manifest in the lives of Native American youth?
  2. Analyze the role of education in the lives of Native American youth. How do disparities in education contribute to the challenges they face?
  3. Discuss the issue of suicide among Native American youth. What factors contribute to this issue and what steps can be taken to address it?

Additional Resources:

  1. Native American Life Today: This resource provides an in-depth look at the challenges faced by Native Americans today, including education disparities, the impact of historical trauma, and the importance of cultural identity.
  2. The Restoration of Native American Life and Culture: This article discusses the hopeful revitalization of Native American life and culture, with a focus on storytelling as a means of healing and growth.
  3. Indigenous Youth: Challenges and Change: This resource discusses the complex challenges faced by Native American youth, including an increased risk of suicide.
  4. Indigenous and Native-identifying students reflect on their experience: This article features Native American students discussing their experiences and paths to higher education.
  5. National Congress of American Indians: https://www.ncai.org/
  6. The National Indian Education Association: https://www.niea.org/
  7. Indian Country Today: https://indiancountrytoday.com/news

Jacob Rosales, a 20-year-old student at Yale, takes a closer look at some of the varied challenges facing Native American young people today. With alarmingly high rates of alcohol abuse, suicide and unemployment, Jacob delves behind the stats to reveal human stories of both suffering and hope.

The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota is a tough place to grow up, being one of the poorest and most underdeveloped places in the US. It is often likened to the developing world. Graduating from university remains nothing more than a dream for the thousands of young people like Rosales, who call it home. Indeed, only one in every 10 Native Americans in the country attain a bachelors degree. Yet Jacob was offered a place at seven of the eight Ivy league universities in the country when he finished high school.

Returning home for break, Jacob meets Yvonne ‘Tiny’ DeCory, who comes face to face with the obstacles facing Native youth every day. A suicide epidemic has grabbed the headlines in recent years and Yvonne and her team at the Bear Project have helped many young people turn their lives around. Eighteen year old Sky opens up to Jacob on why he almost took his own life, before seeking Tiny’s help.

As the Cheyenne River Youth Project are holding a celebration to honour their young people, Rosales reflects on the importance of his own Lakota culture, and Jeremy Fields from Oklahoma explains why he travels around the continent teaching Native students about historical trauma.

Source: BBC Presenter: Jacob Rosales  Producer: Neil Kanwal  Executive Producer: Peter Shevlin


Title: Lesson plan; Native American Youth – Challenges and Hope
URL: https://annmichaelsen.com/2024/02/22/lesson-plan-native-american-youth-challenges-and-hope/
Source: Teaching English using web 2.0
Source URL: https://annmichaelsen.com
Date: February 22, 2024 at 11:14AM
Feedly Board(s): Schule